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Gateway to Guatemala Museums [SP] Modern Architecture Historical Center Main International Airport Large Metropolis

Guatemala City Travel Guide

Guatemala City, or Guate as it is referred locally, located in the heart of Guatemala, is an interesting blend of old and new which possesses a distinct Latin charm. Known by its ancestors as the "place of many trees" (name originated from Nahuatl language, Quuahtlemallan) the city mixes lots of green areas with modern architecture. Sitting on top of three tectonic plates, Guatemala City is the home of two million people, making it the most inhabited city in Central America.

Its location, facilities and the Guatemala City international airport La Aurora makes it a great hub for tourism across the country and the starting point for your trip to the rest of Guatemala. Guatemala City has an active cultural life all year long, giving you plenty of options to spend your time here. It hosts art galleries, several important museums, the National Palace in Guatemala and different cathedrals. Guate has been growing throughout the years and is adapting to all new trends, attracting people from all over the world for its rich culture, great coffee and high concentration of fine restaurants.

Things to do in Guatemala City

Visiting guatemala city.

The base where most of the architectonic treasures are concentrated is located in Zona 1. Here you will find the Historical Center with many buildings conserving a neo-classic style. A bit overcrowded by locals, merchants and noise, Guatemala City center is the place where the real essence of the country's reality is. Its walls and streets are the reflection of past generations.

If you are interested in handicrafts the "Mercado Central" in the city center is a place you must visit. Here you will not only find unique Guatemalan souvenirs, but also see the colorful variety of local flowers, fruits and vegetables, try some local food and feel like you are part of the culture just by walking in the streets. While in Guatemala City, you can also visit the relief map, which was a piece of art and engineering built in 1904. The map shows Guatemala's topography in miniature with a 95% of accuracy.

Zone 4, also known as “4° Norte” (Four Degrees North) is a trendy part of Guatemala City. The area consists of 4 blocks, all of them in direction to the four cardinal points, making it the only place with diagonal streets in Guatemala City. Resurging from an old zone of factories and warehouses, this place is nowadays the Hipster side of the city offering you a high concentration of restaurants, cafés, galleries and bars.

Zone 10, on the other hand, is known as “Zona Viva”, a commercial district where you will find most of the hotels in Guatemala City, restaurants, bars, hospitals and financial institutions. La Reforma is a tree-lined boulevard that separates zone 9 from zone 10. Here you can have a bike ride or walk around and discover the monuments along the road.

Guatemala City tours to other destinations near by

Antigua Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes, flowers and mountains. Is among the best conserved colonial cities in the world and its remaining buildings, chapels and cobblestone streets preserving the Spanish-Baroque architecture made this stunning place an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pacific Coast This black volcanic sand coast stretches 250km (155m) from the Mexican border to El Salvador. Monterrico is the most popular beach in the Pacific with a line of powerful surf and an enormous curving horizon; a great place to relax, eat fresh seafood and enjoy the beach atmosphere.

Tecpan Tecpan is a small town located an hour and a half outside the city which includes many restaurants and is an excellent place to try the real Guatemalan cuisine. A very short distance away you will find Iximché. Surrounded by ravines and pine-forested hills it is an ancient fortress capital of the Mayan people. Partially excavated and restored, Iximché is a place where Mayan ceremonies still take place and you can experience the original conditions of how they used to live.

Shopping in Guatemala City

In Guatemala City your shopping opportunities are enormous. Visit the shopping park Paseo Cayalá Guatemala City, with its neo-colonial buildings is the most exclusive place to live in the city. Here you will find many fancy shops, restaurants and bars. Oakland Mall or Pradera Concepción will give you the chance to experience some of the nicest architectural works represented in shopping malls of Guatemala City.

Museums in Guatemala City

Museo Ixchel Designed along the lines of a Mayan temple, this museum is dedicated to the original Mayan culture, containing a big collection of hand-woven fabrics, ceremonial costumes, information about the techniques, dyes and the way this all change from village to village. A miniature huipil collection and good coffee waits for you in the basement of this place.

Popol Vuh Museum This Guatemala City museum is the home of one of the biggest collections of Mayan artefacts. It promotes the archeological and colonial history of Guatemala. It has participated in the most important exhibitions in and outside Guatemala. It's known for its ceramic art, stone sculptures and Maya pottery collection.

Museo de Historia One of the few buildings that survived the earthquakes in 1917 and 1918 in Guatemala City, it was restored in 1984 with its walls now reaching up to one meter thick on the outside and 0.60 meters in the interior. Conferences, sightseeing films and concerts are organized here for the public to enjoy. It also counts with a documentation center and library if you are interested in investigating Guatemala’s history.

National Palace Guatemala Known as El Guacamolón (the Big Guacamole) for its greenish color, this art piece is one of the Guatemala's most important buildings. Is the beginning point of all roads in Guatemala and its interior design is breathtaking. Mixing Spanish and Arabic style, this place is a unique masterpiece in the country that offers a collection of fine arts and rotating gallery spaces.

Contact our Guatemala Vacation experts today by visiting our Trip Planner !

Between Traditions and Natural Beauty

Guatemala City Map and Location

Guatemala City is the largest city in Central America, founded in 1773 after several earthquakes destroyed Antigua Guatemala, the capital of Guatemala Kingdom. Only Guatemala City has a population of three million people and it hosts the Guatemala City international airport La Aurora.

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Central Guatemala Population: 3 million Elevation: 1,500 m/4,921 ft

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23 Uniquely Fun Things to Do In Guatemala City (Local’s Guide)

A plaza in Guatemala City

Guatemala’s capital is the biggest city in Central America, yet it remains overlooked by most travelers who only pass through it on their way to more popular Guatemalan destinations. But Guatemala City offers unique hidden city gems and cultural insights that can further contextualize your Guatemalan travels! From gastronomical experiences to historical attractions, here are some of the best things to do in Guatemala City.

Table of Contents

Best Things to Do in Guatemala City

1. guatemala city walking tour.

guatemala city tourism

This Guatemala City guided walking tour is a great way to explore the city’s top attractions in a convenient and informative way. With a knowledgeable local guide leading the way, you’ll visit iconic landmarks like the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral , and the Central Market. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history and culture of Guatemala, as well as the significance of each location. The tour is a great option for those who want to make the most of their time in Guatemala City and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s past and present.

If you’re looking for a custom tailored private tour, consider booking this personalized guided experience .

2. Museum of Natural History (Museo de Historia Natural UAC)

guatemala city tourism

If you’re into natural history, you’ve gotta check out Museo de Historia Natural in Guatemala City. This museum features exhibits showcasing the country’s ecosystems, plants and animals, and geology. Personally, I also love spending an afternoon here to brush up on my Spanish reading skills!

The coolest part of the museum is its collection of fossils and skeletons of creatures that lived millions of years ago. Plus, they’ve got exhibits on Guatemala’s volcanoes and earthquakes, which have shaped the landscape, people, and tourism.

  • Hours : Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Cost : 50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood : Zona 4

3. National Plaza of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura)

guatemala city tourism

The National Palace of Culture (AKA el Palacio Nacional de la Cultura ) is an absolute must-see! This stunning building served as the presidential palace in the 1940s but has since been transformed into a beautiful museum and cultural center. Once inside, you can explore fascinating Guatemalan history and cultural exhibits, including pre-Columbian artifacts and traditional Mayan clothing. Plus, you can take a guided tour to enhance your all understanding of the exhibits.

Don’t forget to head outside to enjoy the view of the square itself! Surrounded by beautiful buildings and statues, it’s a great place for people-watching and soaking up the lively atmosphere of Guatemala City.

  • Hours : Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm 
  • Cost : Free
  • Neighborhood : Zona 1                         

4. National Library (Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala)

guatemala city tourism

If you’re interested in books and history, you should check out the National Library of Guatemala . It’s in a fascinating building in the middle of Guatemala City, nearby a few more attractions on this list! 

Inside are various books, manuscripts, maps and other things that tell the history of Guatemala and its people. The library is known for its rare and ancient manuscripts – some of which are centuries old! Whether you’re a die-hard researcher or just curious about Guatemalan culture, you’ll find plenty of interesting things to do here.

  • Hours : Monday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm     
  • Neighborhood : Zona 1                     

5. Guatemala City’s Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanico) ★

guatemala city tourism

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you should definitely visit the Botanical Garden in Guatemala City . Situated in the heart of the city, this garden boasts an impressive collection of plants from all corners of the country. As you explore the different sections of the garden, you’ll come across a diverse range of ecosystems and habitats. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife, such as various species of birds and butterflies.

  • Hours : Wednesday to Monday (8:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
  • Cost :  50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood : Zona 4 

6. Cayala ★

guatemala city tourism

Ciudad Cayala is a trendy and modern shopping and dining destination in Guatemala City that attracts both locals and tourists. The sleek and contemporary architecture of the area is adorned with fashionable shops, restaurants, and cafes.

One of the most appealing attractions of Cayala City is its diverse range of shops and boutiques, offering high-quality fashion and accessories, unique gifts, and crafts. For dining, there are options to suit all tastes, from casual cafes to upscale fine-dining restaurants.

The city of Cayala is a joy to explore, with its beautifully designed and landscaped area, public art, and green spaces. On a sunny afternoon, it’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll, or to sit with a coffee and observe people passing by. Whether you’re a shopaholic, foodie, or just looking for a nice place to spend an afternoon, Cayala City is a must-visit destination!

You could also take a shopping tour to Cayala City, where you’ll get picked up from your hotel and get to visit different malls such as Oakland Mall and Paseo Cayalá.

  • Hours : Sunday to Saturday (10:00 AM to 8:00 PM)
  • Location : Zona 16

7. Popol Vuh Museum (Museo Popol Vuh) ★

The Popol Vuh Museum houses many artifacts and exhibits showing Mayan history and traditions. One of the museum’s main attractions is the Popol Vuh manuscript, an ancient Mayan text that tells the story of the creation of the Quiche. It is one of the few surviving examples of pre-Columbian Maya literature, giving us a glimpse into the beliefs and practices of the ancient civilization.

You could take this private tour of Guatemala’s museums where you’ll get to visit Popol Vuh, Miraflores , Ixchel and the Railway Museum. Check availability here .

  • Hours : Monday to Saturday (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
  • Neighborhood : Zona 10

8. Central American Brewery (Cerveceria Centroamericana)

guatemala city tourism

For beer lovers, a visit to the Central American Brewery in Guatemala City is a must. Established in 1886, this brewery is one of Central America’s oldest and most renowned. Go on a guided tour of the facilities to discover the beer brewing process and the brewery’s rich history.

Throughout the tour, you’ll observe the various stages of beer production and gain insights into the ingredients used to produce each distinct flavor. Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to sample some of the beers straight from the source! The brewery offers an array of beers, ranging from pale ales to darker, full-bodied varieties.

  • Hours : Monday – Friday (7:00 AM to 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
  • Cost : Varies
  • Neighborhood : Zona 18

9. Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Work (Museo Ixchel de Traje Indigena)

guatemala city tourism

If you’re interested in learning about the cultural heritage of Guatemala’s indigenous people, a visit to the Ixchel Museum is a must. The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Mayan clothing and textile arts. The building itself is a stunning blend of modern and traditional architecture, and the museum is easily accessible from various parts of Guatemala City.

You could consider taking a private tour of the museum, such as this guided tour . On this tour you’ll visit four of Guatemala’s museums; Ixchel Museum, Museo Popol Vuh, Museo Miraflores and the Railway Museum.

  • Hours : Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm

10. Go Shopping for Artisan Crafts ★

guatemala city tourism

Guatemala is known for its rich cultural heritage and gorgeous artisan crafts. Travelers to Guatemala City can find a variety of unique handicrafts to shop for; from colorful textiles and ceramics to hand-carved wooden figures and intricate jewelry. Artisan markets are also one of the best free things to do in Guatemala City!

  • Mercado Central ★ : Explore the diverse stalls and browse for unique goods such as vibrant textiles, traditional pottery, artisanal products, and handcrafted jewelry. Don’t forget to sample some of the authentic Guatemalan cuisine available at the many food stands
  • Mercado de Artesanías: This lively and colorful market sells traditional handicrafts such as textiles, pottery, wood carvings and jewelry. Not only can you buy beautiful souvenirs, but you can also watch skilled artisans make masterpieces while they sit at their stands! 
  • Jade Artesanías: 14 Calle 2-51: Guatemala is renowned for its high-quality jade, and the artisans at Jade Artesanias are true experts in crafting exquisite pieces that showcase the natural beauty of this gemstone. This is a good spot to look for high-quality jade! 
  • Colectivo Shop: The ‘Collective’ Shop offers a curated collection by local designers and artisans, allowing visitors to discover one-of-a-kind items while supporting the local economy. 

11. Constitution Plaza (Plaza de la Constitución)

guatemala city tourism

Constitution Plaza , also known as Central Park, is a vibrant square located in the heart of Guatemala City. With iconic buildings like the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral surrounding it, this historic square is a favorite meeting spot for both locals and visitors.

Aside from its cultural and scenic beauty, Constitution Square also holds significant political and social importance. It has been a central location for public demonstrations and rallies, and has played a significant role in shaping many of the country’s significant historical events.

You can also visit the Constitution Plaza as part of a guided tour around the city, such as this 3 hour afternoon tour. On the tour, you’ll learn about the city’s history, and heritage as well as visiting many of its famous sights.

  • Hours : 24/7
  • Neighborhood :  Zona 1

12. Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago (Catedral Metropolitana)

guatemala city tourism

The Cathedral of Santiago , also known as the Guatemala City Cathedral, is an architectural gem located in the heart of the city. Its striking towers are a sight to behold, visible from afar. The cathedral has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century and has undergone several renovations over time.

Inside, visitors are greeted with a remarkable interior featuring religious paintings and sculptures that decorate the walls and altars. The ambiance of the cathedral may offer you an opportunity to reflect and meditate. Alternatively, taking a guided tour is a great way to learn about the cathedral’s historical significance and its cultural importance to the people of Guatemala. As the majority of Guatemalans are Catholic, exploring these cathedrals can provide a fascinating insight into the country’s culture.

13. National Palace of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura)

guatemala city tourism

The National Palace of Culture ( Palacio Nacional de la Cultura ) is one of the most popular things to do in Guatemala City. Built in the 1940s, this impressive building is a fusion of different architectural styles and is a symbol of the country’s cultural heritage.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and learn about its rich history and significance. Inside, you’ll find beautifully decorated rooms, stunning artwork, and murals that depict the country’s history. The palace also houses a museum that showcases the country’s cultural heritage and hosts various cultural events throughout the year. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or culture, the National Palace of Culture is definitely worth a visit.

You could book this 3-hour guided walking tour , on which you’ll visit many of Guatemala’s sights including the National Palace of Culture. You’ll also get to see the Metropolitan Cathedral, go shopping at  the Central Market and drive along Avenue of the Americas. Check availability here .

  • Hours : Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm

14. Enjoy the lively night scene at Majadas Once ★

guatemala city tourism

Majadas Once is a bustling shopping center in Guatemala City known for its exciting nightlife scene. Visitors can enjoy an array of lively bars, clubs, and restaurants that stay open until late into the night. The area offers a variety of entertainment options for visitors to enjoy, such as trendy rooftop bars and intimate jazz clubs. Also, the area is full of great food options ranging from street vendors to fine dining restaurants, making it an ideal place to grab a bite before heading out for a night on the town.

  • Neighborhood :  Zona 11

15. Guatemala National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

guatemala city tourism

The Guatemala National Theater is a must-see for art or architecture enthusiasts. This impressive building was built in the late 19th century and has been well-preserved. As you approach the theater, you’ll immediately notice its ornate facade, with columns and intricate carvings. Once you step inside you will be greeted by the equally stunning interior, with high ceilings and elegant chandeliers. The theater hosts a variety of performances, including plays, concerts and dance performances. 

  • Neighborhood : Zona 1

16. Oakland Mall

guatemala city tourism

The Oakland Mall in Guatemala City is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. This is a large indoor mall with a variety of stores, from international brands to local boutiques, offering everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and homeware.

As well as shopping, Oakland Mall has several restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite or a coffee. For those looking for entertainment, the mall has a movie theater and a bowling alley! Locals love to hang out in malls in Guatemala!

You could also visit the Oakland Mall as part of a shopping tour , which includes hotel pick up. On this tour you’ll also visit other shopping area such as Paseo Cayalá and the Centrel Market. Book the tour here .

  • Hours : Sunday – Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
  • Location : Zona 10

guatemala city tourism

Zona 4, also known as “Cuatro Grados Norte,” is a trendy and vibrant neighborhood in Guatemala City that has been revitalized in recent years. It’s a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for unique shopping and dining experiences, with a great night scene it is also one of the best nightlife places to visit in Guatemala City.

One of the highlights of Zona 4 is the multitude of restaurants and bars, offering a variety of cuisines and atmospheres from delicious cocktails to homemade coffee or traditional Guatemalan food. It can be a great place for you to enjoy the evening and meet new people!

Zona 4 is also a great place for seeing street art. You could join this guided street art walking tour that’ll take you to the best spots to see the art in Zona 4 and take photos with the artwork. Book the tour here .

  • Location : Zona 4

18. MiraFlores Museo

guatemala city tourism

The museum at Miraflores in Guatemala City is an incredible archaeological museum that showcases the ancient Mayan civilization, and it was just completed recently! Located near a large shopping center, the museum offers fascinating insights into Mayan history and culture. The exhibits are divided into several sections, each highlighting a different aspect of Mayan life, including their art, religion, and daily life. In addition to exhibits, the museum offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops and lectures on Mayan civilization. 

You could also take a guided tour of Miraflores , as well as the Museo Popol Vuh and Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena, and the Railway Museum with this guided tour . The tour includes pick up from your hotel + entry to the museums.

  • Hours : Tuesday – Sunday: 9 am – 7 pm
  • Cost : 50Q or $6.50 
  • Location : Zona 11

19. Children’s Museum of Guatemala (Museo de los Niños)

The Children’s Museum of Guatemala, also known as the Museo de los Ninos , is a fun and educational experience for children. The museum is designed to encourage children to learn through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Exhibits cover a variety of topics, from science and technology to history and culture, and are geared towards children of all ages.

One of the highlights of the Children’s Museum is the replica town, where children can role-play and learn about different jobs and activities. You can also explore a life-size pirate ship, climb a tree house and visit a farm with real animals. The museum also houses a planetarium, where visitors can learn about the stars and planets in an engaging and immersive way.

  • Hours : Tuesday – Sunday: 8 am – 4 pm
  • Neighborhood : Zona 14

20. Railway Museum (Museo de Ferrocarril)

guatemala city tourism

Guatemala City’s Railway Museum (Museo de Ferrocarril) is a great place for history buffs who appreciate trains. Located in the old railway station, the museum houses steam locomotives and railcars from the late 19th century. The museum also houses a unique collection of antique cars and motorcycles, as well as old telegraph equipment and other artifacts related to rail travel. Beautifully restored locomotives and railcars are a sight to behold, and visitors can even climb aboard some of them for an up-close look at the inner workings of the engines.

You could visit the Railway Museum as part of a tour. Such as this guided tour which includes a visit to 3 other historical museums in Guatemala + pick up from your hotel. Book the tour here .

  • Hours : Tuesday – Sunday: 9 am – 4 pm

21. Mapa en Relieve

guatemala city tourism

Mapa en Relieve is a three-dimensional model of the country that was created in the mid-1900s as a way to help people understand the geography of Guatemala. Made of plaster, the map contains all of the country’s natural features, such as mountains, rivers, and Lake Atitlan.

There are also replicas of famous Guatemala landmarks, including Tikal and the Fuego volcano. The museum offers guided tours that provide interesting insights and information about the country’s geography and history. 

A great way to visit the Mapa en Relieve is as part of a guided tour, such as this private day tour of Guatemala City. On this tour you’ll visit 9 of the city’s landmarks including The National Palace, the Central Market and the Mapa en Relieve. Book here.

22. Santo Domingo Church (Iglesia de Santo Domingo)

The Iglesia de Santo Domingo in Guatemala City is over 500 years old, and thus, has been painstakingly restored with its carvings and frescoes. The church also has a museum displaying its history and that of the Dominican Order, as well as a garden courtyard with a fountain. The museum contains a collection of religious art, including paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts.

You could visit the Santo Domingo Church as part of a day tour that visits both Guatemala City and the Antigua UNESCO World Heritage Site . The tour includes transport, and a local guide. Book here.

Day Tours from Guatemala City

guatemala city tourism

If you’re only here for a day and curious about what you can do from Guatemala City, here are some ideas for a fun day between your flights!

  • Hobbitenango ★ : For those who love the magical world of JRR Tolkien’s Hobbit stories, this hobbit-style village offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside from 8,000 feet high altitude. Here you can peruse the restaurants and houses. Take this tour , to visit both Hobbitenango and Antigua.
  • Pacaya Volcano ★ : This tour takes you to an active volcano that has been erupting for thousands of years. The hike is moderately challenging but well worth it once you see the lava and smoke! You can even road marshmallows or cook pizza over hot stones.
  • Antigua : Antigua is the gem of Guatemala! Check out our guide to the many things to do and boutique hotels to stay at in Antigua , Guatemala. You could visit Antigua as part of a day tour, such as this Guatemala city + Antigua guided tour .
  • Tikal : This day tour includes a scenic flight from Guatemala City to the ancient ruins of Tikal for a day trip full of adventure.

Best Neighborhoods to Visit in Guatemala City

guatemala city tourism

Guatemala City is often referenced by its neighborhoods, or Zonas, by locals since it is a very large metropolis! Some are known for being full of activities and safe for tourists to visit, so here are the neighborhoods I recommend!

  • Zona 10: “Zona Viva” is one of Guatemala City’s most exclusive and trendy neighborhoods, offering vibrant shopping, dining, and nightlife. This is a great place to explore during the day or spend the night in the town.
  • Zona 14: Known for its upscale residential neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and luxury shopping malls. This is a great place for a refined, quality experience in the city.
  • Zona 1: One of the oldest and most historic districts in Guatemala City. It is home to many important landmarks, including the National Palace of Culture, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.
  • Zona 4: AKA “4 Grados Norte”, is a trendy bohemian neighborhood in Guatemala City that offers a variety of restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.
  • Cayala: A contemporary urban development in Guatemala City that combines residential, commercial, and cultural spaces in a walkable neighborhood. It offers trendy restaurants, upscale shopping, art galleries, and beautiful parks for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Best Restaurants to Eat/Drink in Guatemala City

Guatemala is known for its incredible food; you can find everything from traditional to high-end meals in Guatemala City! Here are some of the nicer restaurants that I recommend visiting in Guatemala City:

  • Gracia Cocina de Autor : An award-winning Guatemala City restaurant offering a unique and innovative dining experience! Gracia focuses on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for delicious and beautifully crafted dishes.
  • Las Carnes de Rodrigo : This popular restaurant is known for its delicious meat dishes. With a cozy and rustic atmosphere, it’s a great spot to enjoy a hearty meal with friends and family!
  • Casa Escobar : A beautiful restaurant that offers a unique and elegant dining experience. With stylish décor and a delicious menu of traditional Guatemalan dishes with a modern twist.
  • Le Cafe Plaza Decorisima: A charming coffee shop in the heart of Guatemala City’s trendy Zona 10 neighborhood. With a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, it is the ideal place to enjoy a good coffee.

Best Hotels in Guatemala City

guatemala city tourism

Since the only major airport in Guatemala is in its capital, there are plenty of great hotels to choose from during your stay. Here are a few that I recommend for visitors in Guatemala City:

  • Hyatt Centric Hotel: The Hyatt Centric Guatemala City is a luxurious, modern hotel in the heart of the city’s financial district. Its stunning city views and first-class facilities make it the perfect choice for business travelers and tourists alike. It is one of the best Hotels Near Guatemala City Airport too!
  • Good Hotel : The Good Hotel is a stylish, eco-friendly hotel in the center of Guatemala City. With its unique social impact program, it provides training and employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, making it an excellent choice for socially conscious travelers.
  • Courtyard by Marriott: The Courtyard by Marriott Guatemala City is a modern and comfortable hotel in the heart of the financial district, making it a great choice for business travelers. Featuring spacious guest rooms, a fitness center and an on-site restaurant, the hotel provides all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay in the city.

About the Author: Alexis Musgrave

Alexis has been traveling the world since she was young and has now made her home in the mountains of Guatemala. Her love for Latin America has been a constant in her life, with frequent trips to Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Alexis is passionate about inspiring people to explore new destinations and cultures and is always eager to share her expert travel tips and tricks. Her ultimate goal is to visit every country in Latin America in the near future.

Local Co-Author: Saul Tovar

Saul is a proud Guatemalan raised in the heart of the country’s capital, Guatemala City. He has explored the world and made countless friends during his travels. After backpacking through Europe and the Appalachian Mountains, he returned home to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of Antigua. Saul loves to share tales of his adventures, and in his free time, he can be found hiking Guatemala’s stunning volcanoes.

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Guatemala Travel Guide

Last Updated: September 1, 2023

A volcano view in Guatemala with a small town nestled in the valley between the mountains

The rugged mountains and jungles offer adventurous travelers a chance to get off the beaten path and explore pristine landscapes for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere in the world. And the ruins are underrated and a must-see for history buffs, including the impressive Tikal, an ancient Mayan city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I love this country and have always had an incredible time here. (One of my favorite memories involves camping in Tikal National Park)

In this travel guide to Guatemala, I’ll show you how to make the most of your trip, save money, and stay safe in one of Central America’s most popular destinations!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Guatemala

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Guatemala

volcano view in Guatemala

1. Visit Lake Atitlán

This spectacular lake is actually a massive volcanic crater. The lake sits 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level and is also one of the deepest lakes in Central America. It should come as no surprise that it’s one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Guatemala. On the northern coast of the lake lies the tourist village of Panajachel, a good base to arrange lake and volcano tours (there are two volcanoes here you can explore, Toliman and San Pedro). The village offers incredible views of the surrounding volcanoes and you can also enjoy restaurants, bars, and nightlife in a rustic lakeside setting here too. Boat tours are available as well.

2. Head to Antigua

Antigua is a picturesque colonial city in a highland valley between three volcanoes. It’s full of colonial Spanish architecture, including cobbled streets, what’s left of the centuries-old San Francisco church, houses, and ruins. There’s a vibrant market with colorful Guatemalan blankets and fabrics as well as lots of crafts and souvenirs. Head to the Plaza Mayor to take in the city’s amazing garden and don’t miss a hike up the Fuego volcano (which is active). There are two routes to choose from: La Soledad and the super high, extremely steep Alotenango Route. Conversely, you can hike the difficult (yet super popular) Acatenango volcano, which offers well-earned views of Fuego spitting lava, fire, and ash into the air. The best time for these hikes is during the dry season from the end of November to early April.

3. Explore Tikal National Park

Tikal is home to the most popular Mayan ruins in the country . Located in Petén Province in the north of Guatemala, this enormous national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and spans nearly 600 square meters (6,500 square feet), housing centuries of Mayan history and archeology covered in lush vegetation. It is famous for rare animals like pumas, toucans, snakes, monkeys, and many species of birds. Arrive early and stay late as the park empties out in the afternoon when tour groups leave. I also recommend sleeping over in the park to catch the sunrise. You will need to pay extra for a guided tour if you want to see the sunrise or sunset. Ticket prices vary depending on if you buy day tickets, sunrise tickets, or sunset tickets. Admission is 150 GTQ for day hiking before sunset. You can reach Tikal from Flores by shuttle bus or even from neighboring Belize .

4.Visit Semuc Champey

This natural attraction outside the town of Lanquin near Coban consists of 300 meters (984 feet) of limestone bridges over the Cahabòn River that form natural lagoon-like pools. Take a candlelit tour through the Kamba caves, go tubing down the Cahabòn, or swim in the turquoise pools along the bridge. Keep in mind that the caves can only be visited with a guide. It’s possible to get here with local transport, private shuttles, or on a day trip. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds. To avoid getting rained on or risk that the area is flooded, visit during the dry season (December-April). Day trips cost 250-300 GTQ.

5. Explore the Chichicastenango Market

Most people who come to Guatemala visit Chichicastenango, the largest indigenous market in North America. Every Thursday and Sunday, thousands of Quiché Mayans come to town to buy and sell handicrafts, flowers, poetry, trinkets, pottery, and colorful textiles. There are plenty of places to eat tasty street food and buy local fruits and veggies, try fresh juices or Guatemalan coffee, and buy delicious handmade tortillas. Don’t forget to bring smaller bills and remember to bargain for the things you buy. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Other Things to See and Do in Guatemala

1. visit the national museum of archaeology and ethnology.

Located in Guatemala City, this museum houses the many artifacts uncovered from the Mayan archaeological sites around the country. Created in 1898, the museum holds over 20,000 items and artifacts and is a good place to visit so you can learn more about the Mayan culture. Admission is 60 GTQ.

2. See the Yaxha ruins

If Tikal is too touristy for you, consider the more secluded Yaxha ruins. Like Tikal, Yaxha is a massive Mesoamerican archaeological site. Located in the northeast, it was the third-largest Mayan city in the region. Home to several huge stone pyramids, the site was “discovered” in 1904 and dates to 250-600 CE. Spend a few hours looking at ancient drawings and intricately carved hieroglyphs. Admission is 80 GTQ.

3. Explore Quirigua

The archaeological site of Quirigua, located in the southeastern corner of the country near the border with Honduras, contains the largest stelae (upright stone columns covered in drawings or carved into shapes) ever discovered in the Mayan world. Nine stelae are arranged around a central plaza, accompanied by altars carved into zoomorphic shapes that date from the 2nd-8th centuries CE. Although the stelae are unrestored, they are a magnificent sight; the largest of these is a whopping 25 feet tall! Admission is 80 GTQ.

4. Hike the Volcán de Pacaya

This active volcano frequently erupts ash clouds over Antigua, however, it makes for a fun day hike (don’t worry, it’s safe). The trail is relatively easy (it’s not that steep) and takes around two hours to hike, giving you lots of time to admire the view before you actually get a chance to peer into the volcano’s cone. Pacaya can only be accessed with an authorized guide so you will need to book a tour. Be aware the cheap tours often just offer transportation and a Spanish-speaking guide. If you don’t speak Spanish you will need to ask for an English-speaking guide. Guided hikes start at 250 GTQ . Some of the tours also include a visit to a thermal spa where you can soak in the naturally warm waters as well as a chance to roast marshmallows over the volcano.

5. Wander Flores

A small island, Flores sits on Lake Peten Itza, a large lake in the north and the second-largest lake in the country. A narrow man-made causeway connects the island to the mainland and the region is perfect for hiking, swimming, and spotting wildlife. From here, you’re just a short drive away from some of the most untamed jungles in the country (it makes for a good base for exploring the nearby jungles). It’s also close to the ruins at Tikal.

6. Visit the ruins at El Mirador

El Mirador is one of the most undiscovered Mayan sites in Guatemala. Located near the border with Mexico in the northeast, the majority of its complexes lie in the depths of the jungle and remain relatively inaccessible to tourists. It’s the largest of all the Mayan ruins, rivaling even the pyramids in Egypt in size. Though discovered in 1926, researchers didn’t start studying it until 2003! Multi-day tours cost around 2,300-3,100 GTQ since it’s so remote.

7. Explore Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce is a gorgeous river and popular backpacker destination in eastern Guatemala. Two towns, El Relleno and Fronteras, lie on either side of the river and are connected by one of the largest bridges in Central America. The area is famous for its trekking and water activities, including the Finca Paraiso hike, which leads to a hot spring and a waterfall. The Quiriguá ruins (mentioned above) are also nearby and worth a visit.

8. Visit the Antigua Market

This sprawling market is colorful and somewhat chaotic. It’s open-air and filled with everything from fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and poultry to fake DVDs and knock-off jeans. Come here to buy souvenirs, people watch, and take in the bustling chaos!

9. Relax at Monterrico

This is the most popular beach in the country. Located close to Guatemala City and Antigua, this laid-back beach town is a relaxing place to catch some sun and hit the waves. Between June-December, you can also see giant leatherback, green sea, and smaller olive ridley turtles. There are also lots of tours of the nearby mangroves.

10. Hike Acatenango

Located near Antigua, Acatenango is a stratovolcano standing almost 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). It’s the third-highest volcano in Central America and last erupted in 1972. It offers a strenuous 7-8-hour hike up to a campsite, where you camp overnight before summiting to watch the sunrise. Overnight hiking tours cost around 600-800 GTQ and include cold-weather gear, an English-speaking guide, and park admission.

11. Watch the sunrise from Indian Nose

The sunrise from the Indian Nose volcano is quite possibly one of the most magical sunrises you will ever experience. Located next to Lake Atitlan, you’ll get to look out across the water and the magnificent volcanoes before you (including the Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes). You can do this hike alone but it is difficult finding the path in the dark so it is much better to go with a guide. Expect to pay around 465 GTQ.

12. Learn to surf

Guatemala isn’t known for its beaches but the small coastal town of El Paredon is a well-kept secret where you can hit the waves. The black sand beach is beautiful and the surf is great. A board rental is around 100-125 GTQ per day and surf lessons cost around 120 GTQ for a private class, including a board.

Guatemala Travel Costs

Pyramids and other ruins in the jungle at the Mayan site of Tikal in Guatemala

Budget hotels are plentiful in Guatemala and rooms cost as little as 235-250 GTQ for a double or twin bed with basic amenities. For a mid-range hotel with free breakfast, expect to pay closer to 500 GTQ

Airbnb is available around the country, with private rooms starting at 200 GTQ per night. For an entire home or apartment, prices begin around 300 GTQ per night though they average closer to 800 GTQ. Book early to find the best deals.

For those traveling with a tent, camping is not common and not recommended. You can camp in the parks of El Paredon and Tikal though. Camping there costs around 50 GTQ per night.

Food – Guatemalan cuisine leans heavily on traditional Mayan foods with a strong influence from Spain (the Spanish arrived here in 1524). Traditional foods use a lot of corn, chilies, avocados, and beans. Popular dishes include tamales, seafood soup, and meat stews (usually chicken or beef), which are readily available and usually quite affordable. Gallo en perro (spicy stew), tapado (seafood soup with green plantain and coconut milk), and fried rice are other popular dishes.

If you’re on a budget, you can get a large meal of beans, rice, corn, and meat for around 40 GTQ from a comedor (local eateries that usually offer large portions). Another local favorite is a tortilla with beans and eggs with sour cream and fried plantain on the side, which usually cost the equivalent of just a couple of dollars.

Lunch is the main meal of the day here, and many restaurants offer affordable set menus. These usually include soup and grilled meat.

Pre-made plates of food (usually chicken or beef, rice, and tortillas) are often sold on the buses during stops for about 25-30 GTQ. Street food, like hot dogs or tamales, can be found for less than 15 GTQ.

A three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant with a drink costs around 250 GTQ. Mexican-style dishes like tacos or enchiladas are a popular evening choice (since dinner is usually a lighter meal).

Fast food like McDonald’s costs around 45 GTQ for a combo meal. For a meal at a Western restaurant (think burger and fries or pizza), expect to pay at least 100 GTQ.

A beer costs 15 GTQ, bottled water is 6 GTQ, and a cappuccino/latte costs around 19 GTQ.

If you plan on buying your own groceries, expect to pay around 200 GTQ per week for staples like vegetables, rice, seasonal produce, and some meat.

Backpacking Guatemala Suggested Budgets

As a budget backpacker in Guatemala, expect to pay around 250 GTQ per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel dorm, cooking most of your meals, sticking to free activities (like hiking and the beach), limiting your drinking, and using public transportation to get around.

On a mid-range budget of 650 GTQ, you can stay in an Airbnb, eat out for all your meals, enjoy a few drinks, take some guided tours, use taxis here and there, and visit more attractions such as museums or ruins.

On a “luxury” budget of 1,750 GTQ per day, you can stay in a hotel, take taxis everywhere, book higher-end tours (including private tours and day tours), and eat out every meal at nicer restaurants. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in GTQ.

Guatemala Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

It’s easy to save money while traveling in Guatemala since the country isn’t that expensive. However, a good budget traveler always looks for ways to maximize value. Here are some of the best ways to save money in Guatemala:

  • Take a free walking tour – In some of the larger cities (like Antigua) you can find free walking tours. They’re the best way to get introduced to a new destination. Freetour.com has options you can choose from. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Stay with a local – While accommodation is cheap here, staying with a local via Couchsurfing makes it free. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll get firsthand knowledge from a local!
  • Visit the Mercado – Although eating out is cheap in Guatemala, it makes sense to shop at the markets for your food to take on day trips or to prepare at your hostel. Fruit costs mere pennies and everything is always fresh.
  • Eat street food – The local street food is the cheapest food you can eat — and the tastiest. Stick to street food when it comes to eating out.
  • Avoid flying – Bus rides are longer, but if you are trying to see the country on a budget you shouldn’t fly. An hour-long flight can cost hundreds of dollars. Avoid flying as much as possible!
  • Avoid drinking – Sure, the beer here is cheap but a couple of beers every day will add up. Watch your drinking to keep your budget intact!

Where to Stay in Guatemala

Guatemala has plenty of hostels in all the major cities. Here are some of my suggested places to stay:

  • Maya Papaya (Antigua)
  • Barbara’s Boutique Hostel (Antigua)
  • La Iguana Perdida (Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan)
  • Casa de Grethel (Flores)
  • Hostal Los Lagos (Guatemala City)
  • Hostal Guatefriends (Guatemala City)

How to Get Around Guatemala

Cobblestone-lined street with brightly colored low buildings on both sides, with a yellow archway going over the street in Guatemala

Public transportation – The main method of transportation in Guatemala is las camionetas (“chicken buses”). They are old school buses from North America and are the most inexpensive way to get around. Expect to pay around 10 GTQ for a 1-2 hour journey. Shorter journeys can cost as little as 5 GTQ.

If you are traveling between places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan, shuttle buses are the most common form of transport for backpackers. Travel between Antigua and Guatemala City costs around 150 GTQ on a shuttle bus. On a chicken bus, it costs considerably less.

Train – There are no trains in Guatemala.

Bus – Because of the poor condition of the roads in Guatemala large coach buses aren’t available on many routes. You can find night buses between Guatemala City and Flores to take you to countries like Mexico , Belize , and Nicaragua . For most other places, you have to rely on shuttle buses.

You have two options for booking: asking in your hostel to call and book for you and pay in cash, or booking online through guatego.com. Unfortunately, websites like Busbud don’t operate in Guatemala as their transport infrastructure is still developing.

Keep in mind the shuttles are pretty basic. Most don’t have working AC and are not very spacious. Plan for delays as well.

Flying – There are regular flights from Guatemala City to Flores, usually costing around 1,000-1,400 GTQ per person for the one-hour flight. If you are short on time and have plenty of money to spend, I suggest flying. But for most travelers, the bus is the best option.

Car rental – Renting a car costs around 175 GTQ per day. Do take care if you decide to drive in Guatemala as the roads aren’t the best and landslides are common during the rainy season (which can often result in both accidents and road closures). Make sure you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) — you’ll need one for any car rental.

For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Guatemala

Guatemala is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the year because of its spring-like climate. As many places are at altitude, you can expect cool mornings and evenings and warm days. Expect temperatures to sit between 18-28°C (65-82°F).

Many choose to avoid Guatemala during the rainy season (May-September) as the rain can be a bit disruptive, especially if you want to do things like hiking. That said, it is during these months that Guatemala is at its most beautiful as the country turns green and the flowers bloom. Prices also drop significantly during the rainy season.

To beat the crowds, visit in the shoulder season (the start or end of the rainy season). You’ll see fewer people and things will be a little cheaper. The weather won’t be perfect but it will still be sunny and warm most days so you’ll still be able to hike.

How to Stay Safe in Guatemala

While Guatemala is generally safe, there’s no denying that certain precautions should be taken as there is a lot of petty crime (and other safety issues) in the country. Avoid isolated areas, especially at night and in big cities. Keep your personal belongings on you while using public transit (especially chicken buses) and night buses.

Additionally, don’t wear flashy jewelry or leave your valuables out in the open. Petty theft is common here so you must be vigilant.

Violent attacks against tourists are rare. Most of the time it’s because the tourist was involved in something drug-related or was where they shouldn’t be at night.

Scams are common in the larger cities so be wary of any overly friendly strangers. You can read about common travel scams to avoid right here.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). Whenever possible, share a taxi with friends and avoid walking around alone just to be safe.

Guatemala is home to 37 volcanoes so volcanic activity isn’t uncommon. Be sure to check for warnings before you embark on any hikes/activities (especially ones on or around volcanoes).

Additionally, due to its political instability, protests and demonstrations are common. If one is occurring near you, simply head back to your accommodation and avoid taking part.

If you experience an emergency, dial 110 for assistance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Guatemala Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Guatemala Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Central America and continue planning your trip:

Do You Need Travel Insurance for Costa Rica?

Do You Need Travel Insurance for Costa Rica?

The Best Tour Companies in Costa Rica

The Best Tour Companies in Costa Rica

The 6 Best Hostels in Panama City, Panama

The 6 Best Hostels in Panama City, Panama

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Is Belize Safe to Visit?

Is Central America Safe to Visit?

Is Central America Safe to Visit?

How to Get Around Central America on a Budget

How to Get Around Central America on a Budget

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Guatemala City

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  • 1.1 Tourist information
  • 2.1 By plane
  • 3.2 By taxi
  • 4.1 Museums
  • 6.1 Language schools
  • 6.2 University courses
  • 6.3 Other studies
  • 8.1 Textiles and artesania
  • 8.2 Bookstores
  • 8.3 Shopping malls
  • 8.4 6 Avenida (Zona 1)
  • 8.5 Aurora International Airport
  • 8.7 Banks (international)
  • 9.1 Fast food
  • 9.2 Street food
  • 9.3 Carretera a Antigua Guatemala
  • 9.4 Zona 10/Zona Viva
  • 9.7 Supermarket and food markets
  • 11.1 Budget
  • 11.2 Mid-range
  • 11.3 Splurge
  • 11.4 Apartment hotels
  • 12.2 Internet cafes
  • 12.3 Post office
  • 13 Stay safe
  • 14.1 Pharmacy
  • 15.1 Embassies

Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala , a country in Central America . With a population of around 3 million people, Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala. It can be interesting to visit "Guate," as it is also called by the locals. Guatemala City has attractions and restaurants, often with few tourists. Sunday evenings' gatherings of hundreds of locals at the main plaza is certainly an unforgettable experience.

Understand [ edit ]

Guatemala City is in the department (territorial division) of Guatemala, and it's the capital of the country. All the main highways start at Kilómetro 0, inside Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace), in Centro Histórico (Historic Center).

Guatemala City became the capital after Antigua Guatemala had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1773.

Tourist information [ edit ]

  • INGUAT , 7 Avenue 1-17, Zone 4. Travellers have mixed reports about the service being unreliable here at the official travel office. There is little written material You can get some nice posters for Q6 ( quetzales ), and if you bring your own blank CD, they will copy some marimba music for you.

Although it holds a repelling reputation for violent crime, Guatemala is also known for its good-natured, friendly citizens.

Get in [ edit ]

By plane [ edit ].

There are daily international arrivals from the US, México, El Salvador, Honduras (San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa), Costa Rica (San José), Nicaragua (Managua), and Panamá and less frequent arrivals from Spain. The only available domestic flights are with Avianca (formerly TACA Regional) and TAG from Flores near Tikal. The number of arrivals are in parentheses:

  • Aeroméxico : México City (3)
  • American Airlines : Miami (3), Dallas (1)
  • Avianca : Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, México, San José (3), El Salvador (3), San Pedro Sula (2), Tegucigalpa (1), Flores (2), Cancún. (most outside Central America and Guatemala via San Salvador)
  • CM (Cielo Maya) Airlines : San Pedro Sula (1)
  • Copa Airlines : Panamá (5), Managua (2), San José (2).
  • Delta Air Lines : Atlanta (1), Los Angeles (1).
  • Iberia : Madrid (direct 3 times a week). (Rest of the week via San Salvador, San José, or Panamá. No fifth freedom rights for travel within Central America, meaning they cannot take on passengers who only want to travel from San Salvador or Panama to Guatemala City.)
  • JetBlue : New York City-JFK
  • Sosa [formerly dead link] Tegucigalpa (1 M-F) and San Pedro Sula (1 M-F)
  • Spirit Airlines [dead link] : Ft Lauderdale
  • Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos (TAG) : Flores, Puerto Barrios, Belize City, Roatan, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador Ilopango
  • United Airlines : Los Angeles, Houston (3), Newark (on Saturdays), Washington Dulles
  • Volaris/Volaris Costa Rica : Cancun, Guadalajara, Mexico City, San Salvador & San Jose CR
  • Wamos Varadero & Madrid

If you need to change money or withdraw cash from an ATM, do so before exiting customs. There is no currency exchange or ATMs located past customs in international arrivals. You would need to go upstairs to Departures for these services.

There are always taxis at the airport. They operate with fixed prices (around US$12 from the airport to Zona 10) that are 2-3 times higher than what you would pay for the same distance with an ordinary taxi. If your hotel is in Zona 10, chances are high that there is a free shuttle service.

Regular shuttles run to Antigua each day, several times a day from 06:00 to 20:00 (prices US$8–12 per person).

There is also a bus route operating the road that passes the airport that will take you to Zona 10 at around La Reforma and 12 Calle. If you are going to the old city center (Zona 1), many buses go that way from La Reforma or from 7 Avenida that runs in parallel with La Reforma, one block away. The red city buses are not safe due high incidences of crime against the driver and passengers. It is recommended passengers use taxis locally.

By car [ edit ]

Central American highways CA-1 and CA-9 run through Guatemala City.

CA-1 is part of the Pan-American Highway and comes from the border with Mexico near Tapachula through the western highlands. Within the city, CA-1 is first Avenida Roosevelt, then Boulevar Liberacion and then Bulevar Los Proceres. It then becomes Carretera an El Salvador outside of the city and it leads to the Chinamas border with El Salvador.

By bus [ edit ]

Being the national transportation hub there are various bus lines going into and out of Guatemala City in all directions, from around the country, and from neighboring countries at varying distances. Most foreigners coming into the country would most likely fly in but it's also possible to travel from various cities in the U.S., through Mexico , to Guatemala City; and from Panama through the Central American isthmus by bus.

The city has four major bus stations based on the compass points. They are:

  • 14.6468 -90.4514 2 Centra Norte , Km 8.5 Carretera al Atlántico, 40-26 Zona 17 ( The Blue-White Transurbano buses connect Centra Norte into town ), ☏ +502 2500-9800 . Bus station and a major shopping mall integrated into one big retail complex in the northeastern part of Guatemala City. First class pullman and chicken buses go from here to Eastern Guatemala , Caribbean Coast , Northern Lowlands (Peten) and to Alta Verapaz.  
  • 14.56241 -90.56409 3 Centra Sur , Calle 23, Galerías Centra Sur Zona 12 Villa Nueva ( South end of town on the border with Villa Nueva ). Buses from points south such as San Miguel Petapa, Amatitlán, Bárcena, Villa Nueva, Esquintla, Puerto San José and the Pacific Lowlands . Centra Sur is also the southern terminus and bus station for the green Transmetro buses going into Guatemala City.  
  • 14.61517 -90.53606 4 Terminal Trebol , Calzada Roosevelt & 1a Avenida Zona 7 ( Along 1a Ave between the auxiliary road alongside Calzada Roosevelt & 6a Calle, next to Estadio Trebol ). Chicken buses to Antigua, Monte Carmela, Patzun, San Juan de Sacatepequez, Zaragoza and other cities and towns in Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango departments. The "terminal" is nothing more than a series of bus stops ( paradas ) lined up along 1a Avenida. The only available amenities are street vendors selling food and drinks along the sidewalk. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • 14.61018 -90.53206 5 Estacion de Occidente , 41a Calle entre 7a Ave y 11a Ave Zona 8 ( 41a runs parallel along the north side of Blvd Liberacion (Hwy CA-1), between 7a Ave & 11a. ). Chicken buses to Huehuetenango, Panajachel, Quetzaltenango, Cuatro Caminos, Los Encuentros and other places in the Western Highlands . The "station" is nothing more than a series of bus stops ( paradas ) lined up along 41a Calle. The only available amenities are street vendors selling food and drinks along the sidewalk. ( updated Jun 2018 )

La Terminal in Zona 4 is closed as a bus station and only functions as a large (informal) marketplace.

The pullman companies and some chicken bus companies have their own terminals in Zona 1 near the old train station (Museo de Ferrocarril), a dodgy area. It is best to get a taxi to get around there especially after dark. There are other bus stations in Zona 10, 11 and in other parts of the city, some of which are in better areas. Some of the same companies have an additional presence in either Centra Norte or Centra Sur in addition to their own terminals:

  • Transportes Alamo , 12a Ave "A" 0-65 Zona 7 , ☏ +502 2471-8626 . To Quetzaltenango ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Autobuses Del Norte (ADN) , 8a Ave 16-41 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2251-0610 . Petén and Quetzaltenango. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Comfort Lines , 4a Ave 13-60 Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2501-1000 . Guatemala City and San Salvador.  
  • Fortaleza Del Sur , 19 Calle 8-70 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2230-3390 . Malacatan, Retalhuleu, Tecun Uman, Talisman and other cities and towns in the Pacific Lowlands . They also have a presence in Centra Sur in Zona 12.  
  • Fuentes Del Norte (FDN), Maya De Oro , 17 Calle 8a. y 9a. Avenidas 8-46 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 7497-7070 , +502 7497-1786 . Guatemala City to Izabal, Petén, San Pedro Sula and Belize City. ( updated Nov 2017 )
  • Transportes Los Halcones , Calzada Roosevelt 37-47 Zona 11 , ☏ +502 7765-7985 , +502 2439 4911 . Direct first class pullman bus towards Huehuetenango and La Mesilla (Km 330 Aldea Valparaiso, La Democracia). ( updated Jan 2018 )
  • Hedman Alas , 2a Ave 8-73 Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2362-5072 . Daily departures to Tegucigalpa via Copan Ruinas, Tela, San Pedro Sula in Honduras. Onward shuttle connection to Antigua for arrivals from Honduras. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Linea Dorada , 16 Calle 10-03 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2415-8900 . Goes west to Tapachula, Huehuetenango and/or Quetzaltenango and north to Flores/Santa Elena ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • LiteGua , 15 Calle 10-40 zona 1 , ☏ +502 2326-9595 , +502 2326-9400 . To the Caribbean Coast and Eastern Guatemala . Additional service to Antigua in a mini-bus ( microbus ). ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Maya De Oro y StarBus , Calzada Raul Aguilar Batres 7-55 Zona 12 , ☏ +502 2471-0952 . Starbus goes towards Esquintla, Puerto San Jose and other places in the Pacific Lowlands while Maya De Oro go to Quetzaltenango. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Transportes Monja Blancas , 8A Avenida 15-16 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 7961-8484 . Pullman bus company to Coban. They also have an additional presence at Centra Norte ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Platinum Centroamerica ( King Quality ), 4 Ave 13-60 Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2501-1000 . International bus serving Guatemala City, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and Managua.  
  • Pullmantur , 1a Avenida 13-22 Zona 10 ( Hotel Holiday Inn ), ☏ +502 2495-7000 . Operates buses between Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and San Salvador.  
  • Autobuses Rápidos del Sur , 20a Calle 8-55 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2232-7025 . Malacatan and Tecun Uman via other cities and towns in the Pacific Lowlands on two separate routes. They also have a presence in Centra Sur in Zona 12. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Rebuli , 21a Calle 1-34 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2230-2748 . They have their own pullman and chicken buses to Panajachel. They also pick up at the Terminal Occidente. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Rutas Orientales , Centra Norte Km 8.5 Carretera al Atlántico, Zona 17 , ☏ +502 2326-3200 . Goes east to Chiquimula, Esquipulas and Zacapas. ( updated Jun 2018 )
  • Ticabus ( Transportes Internacionales Centroamericanos ), Calzada Aguilar Batres, 22-55 Zona 12 , ☏ +502 2473-3737 . International bus company going across the Central American isthmus between Panama City and Managua. From Managua one route goes to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in Honduras while another continues along the Pan American Hwy to San Salvador, Guatemala City and Tapachula in Mexico. They also have another north-south route connecting El Salvador to Honduras.  
  • Trans Galgos Inter. , 7a Avenida 19-44 Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2220-6018 . departs 13:00 . International services to Tapachula from Guatemala City via Retalhuleu and Coatepeque on one route and twice daily to San Salvador on another. They also operate a third domestic route to Quetzaltenango from Guatemala City. They also book onward travel all the way to the U.S. border through Mexico. US$17 .  
  • Transportes del Sol , Avenida las Américas, adentro del Hotel Las Américas, zona 13 ( Inside the Hotel Las Americas in Zona 13 ), ☏ +502 2422 5000 , +502 4147 3104 . Office hours M-F 08:00-18:00 and Sa-Su 08:00-16:00 . Serves Guatemala City, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Managua and San Jose. US$28 (one-way) .  
  • Transportes Valesquez y Zacaleu Futura , Calzada Roosevelt 9-34, Zona 7 , ☏ +502 7764-2145 , +502 2473-5081 . Second class pullman bus/coach towards Huehuetenango. Multiple stops along the road in the older MCI, Marcopolo and Mercedes coaches. ( updated Jan 2018 )

Get around [ edit ]


The city is divided into 21 zones ( zonas ). Zona 1 is the old historic center. Here are the national palace, the presidential palace, the cathedral, the main plaza, and the Central Market. South of Zona 1 is Zona 4, with many of the official buildings like the national bank, the national theatre, and the tourist board (INGUAT). Farther south is Zona 10 and Zona 9, divided by Avenida La Reforma. Zona 10 hosts most of the high class hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping facilities. A small part of Zona 10 is called Zona Viva (the lively zone) because of its nightlife.

If you walk, make sure to do so accompanied.

  • Transmetro [dead link] is Guatemala City's bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The fleet consists of (green) modern buses that have fixed stops and partly run on dedicated lanes, avoiding other traffic. Stops and vehicles are guarded by municipal police. The system has six lines, numbered 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, and 18. Service on each line begins between 04:30 and 17:30, and ends between 20:00 and 22:00. You must pay using a "Citizen's Card", which is available from the machines at each bus stop. It costs Q20, and includes 5 free trips. Subsequent trips are 1Q each (2023). There is also a prepaid bus card system called Transurbano that is being implemented in the metro area.
  • Transurbano (blue & white) buses provide slower service on more routes. To use this system you have to buy a pre-paid card from special booths, such as in Zona 1's Plaza Barrios, the CentraNorte bus terminal and the Zona 10 TransUrbano office on Av La Reforma. Cash is not accepted on board. It has surveillance cameras, and panic buttons in the units, which communicate directly to police officers.
  • The old red city buses, los rojos , are hotbeds of violent robbery and extortion, and should only be used in an emergency.

By taxi [ edit ]

There are two kinds of taxis: the ones with a meter and the ones on which you have to agree on a price before the trip. Of the metered taxis, the best service is given by Taxis Amarillo (yellow cabs). It is not possible to hail them in the street so you have to call 1766. They will demand an address (they can sometimes by quite picky about getting an exact address: look around at nearby houses, and give the correct zona) and normally a telephone number, so it might be wise to have someone call on your behalf from a restaurant or so. With Amarillo, every trip is logged, and riding is considered safe.

The other kind of taxis are white. With these you have to negotiate a price, and as you are a foreigner, they most likely will demand more than the normal fare. Normally, the white taxis should be cheaper, but unless you negotiate well, the yellow taxis might actually be the cheaper choice. It is also the question of safety. There are approximately 800 unlicenced and stolen white taxis circulating the city. If you do find a white taxi who is decent, the driver will be happy to give you a card and pick you up if you call in advance; many locals who can afford the odd taxi have their favorite "taxista" whom they call, and the drivers themselves can refer you to another reliable driver should they be busy. The minimum price for a metered cab ride is Q25.

The ride hailing service Uber operates also in Guatemala City.

See [ edit ]

guatemala city tourism

Antique churches provide the capital city with a very special historic and architectural touch, such as Cerrito del Carmen, Catedral Metropolitana, Calvario, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Iglesia de Yurrita, and Iglesia de la Merced. The archaeological site of Kaminal Juyú is in this capital city, which according to specialists, is a city buried under one of the most commercial areas of the city, comprising Zona 7 and Zona 11.

  • 14.660306 -90.508628 2 Mapa en Relieve , ☏ +502 2254-1114 . Daily 09:00-17:00 . At Minerva Park, at end of Av. Simon Cañas, Guatemala Zona 2. Entrance is Q16. This relief map depicting Guatemala's precipitous topography is so immense you have to view it from an observation tower. What makes it even more amazing is that it was built in 1904, before satellite or even aerial photography.  
  • 14.598542 -90.525719 3 La Aurora Zoo , Zona 13 . See local and exotic animals in a decent environment. Make sure to listen to the songbirds that gather in the trees above.  
  • 14.63313 -90.548583 4 Kaminal Juyu Parque Arqueologico , Zona 7 . An early Maya ruin right in the heart of the city. The buildings are mostly mounds, however, the excavations have opened up a lot of areas that are interesting to tour.  
  • 14.64162 -90.513006 5 Parque Central (Plaza de la Constitucion) . A town square established in 1776.  
  • 14.641601 -90.512516 6 Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago de Guatemala . Consecrated in 1815. Beautiful, outside and inside.  
  • 14.614491 -90.512957 7 Jardines Botánico , Calle Mariscal Cruz 1-56, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 334 6064 . First botanical garden in Central America. Houses a large variety of indigenous and exotic plant species in a mature, well-maintained facility. The garden is part of the Museum of Natural History, an operation of UCA.  

Museums [ edit ]

  • 14.639813 -90.51006 9 National History Museum ( Museo Nacional de Historia ), 9A Calle 9 , ☏ +502 2253 6149 . ( updated Mar 2021 )
  • 14.664858 -90.494158 15 Museo Carlos F. Novella , 15 Avenida 18-01 Zona 6 Interior Finca La Pedrera ( Go by taxi to front entrance of cement factory, and tell the guard you are visiting the Museo de la Cuenca Mirador. ), ☏ +502 2286-4100 ext 6435 . Free museum tracing the legacy of the cement industry.  

Do [ edit ]

Recreational activities can be done as well, from climbing volcanoes (Agua and Pacaya), to swimming in several recreational facilities, as well as water sports in Lago de Atitlán (lake).

For recreation, you can visit 4 Grados Norte: pedestrian roads that offer great entertainment, commerce and cultural activities, and Zona Viva, an area of Zona 10 that has become the main center for nightlife. Guatemala City is an urban center with cultural diversity, cosmopolitan as well as traditional, in which traditional and folkloric abundance stands out, with legends such as El Cadejo or La Llorona. The city offers the tourist all the services and commodities and is normally the center of operations to set out to any of the other destinations in the Republic.

  • Shopping at the Central Market
  • Every Sunday hundreds of People stroll at the Main Plaza ("Plaza Mayor") in Zona 1, where music, arts and food is provided
  • Los Proceres
  • Miraflores .
  • Tikal Futura
  • Pradera Concepcion . Newest cinemas in Guatemala with IMAX Theater
  • 14.625764 -90.510489 1 Guatemala National Football Team ( Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores ), 10A Avenida , ☏ +502 2412 7500 . If you want to experience a football game in a country that's obsessed with football (Spanish: fútbol ; North American/Oceanian English: soccer), spend a Sunday morning/afternoon at Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores. The most popular football club in the country, CSD Municipal ("Los Rojos"). Tickets are cheap and you can get them at the stadium entrance. Go to [1] to see when there is a local match. "Palco" is the most expensive seating with ample spaced seats followed by "Preferencia", "Tribuna",where the "hinchas", or fanatics, sit and "General Sur y Norte" which are the cheapest. The first three are best for a good view. The other big Guatemala City football team is Comunicaciones ("Los Cremas"). If Municipal isn't playing, go see Comunicaciones play as they share a stadium as their home venue. ( updated Nov 2022 )
  • Authentic Guatemala , Cd. Guatemala , ☏ +502 4715-9095 . Visit the highlights of the city with this comprehensive and educational tour. Tours run daily, call in advance. Private transportation and tour service is available throughout the entire country.  

Learn [ edit ]

Language schools [ edit ].

  • Oxford Language Center , 20 Calle 23-59, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2368-1231 , +502 2368-1332 . A small, friendly language school specializing in English, but also offering several other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, French, Italian, and German, which are taught exclusively by native speakers. This school gives personal service with payment required up front, no refunds. Oxford Language Center also has a second location in Coban. ( updated Jul 2015 )
  • IGA - Instituto Guatemalteco Americano , ☏ +502 338-5555 , fax : +502 338-4571 , [email protected] . Ruta 1 4-05, Zona 4. Teaching in small groups, normally 1-5 students. 7 levels, starting at basic level. More weight on grammar than the typical language schools in Antigua, with some courses on just practicing. The price is around Q850 for a course of 2 hours a day (M-F), seven weeks (approximately). You can get a discount if you only plan to follow part of the course. The classes are from 09:00-11:00 or 11:00-13:00, and you can combine two classes. The students are from all over the world, many of them children or spouses.  
  • Academia Europea , 15 Calle 2-64, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2363-5760 , +502 2368-1002 . Most of the teachers (in other languages) from this academy teach their native language. It has taken a large portion of the market for language learning because of its unique and patented system. ( updated Jul 2015 )
  • Berlitz , Av. Reforma 7-62, Zona 9 , ☏ +502 362-4444 . ( updated Jul 2015 )
  • Universidad de San Carlos (USAC) , Av. Reforma 0-63, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 331-0904 , +502 334-7662 , +502 335-5635 . Q600 for 40 hr (4 weeks) . ( updated Jul 2015 )
  • Instituto Austriaco Guatemalteco - Österreichische Schule

University courses [ edit ]

Some of the universities give courses open to the public. Check out their websites for more information.

  • Universidad Rafael Landivar
  • Universidad Francisco Marroquin
  • Universidad Del Istmo
  • Universidad del Valle
  • Universidad San Carlos

Other studies [ edit ]

  • Intecap , Calle del Estadio Mateo Flores, 7-51 zona 5. Tel: +502 2410 5555. An organization created since 1960 for job training. You can learn Guatemalan cuisine, International cuisine, carpentry, mechanics, basic and industrial electricity, electronics, mechatronics, English as a foreign language, dairy processing, meat processing, welding, painting, computer programming, web design, database administration, hair stylist, administration, mansonry, hotel administration, bartender, barista, tailoring of garments, hand crafting, bakery, etc.

Work [ edit ]

If English is your native language (with Spanish as your second language), you might find work as a private English tutor or translator. Look at the classifieds in Prensa Libre .

Buy [ edit ]

guatemala city tourism

Guatemala is famous for its textiles. In the city you should be able to find textiles from all over the country. If you are particularly interested in Guatemala or the Maya, you might find books (in Spanish) here that are hard to get anywhere else. For books in English, you get better prices at an online bookstore like Amazon in most cases.

Textiles and artesania [ edit ]

  • In Nola , 18 Calle 21-31, Zona 10. Tel +502 2337 4498. M-F 08:30-18:30, Sa 08:30-13:30. Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.
  • The artesania market , Zona 13.
  • Lin-Canola , 5 Calle 9-60, Zona 1 , ☏ +502 253-0138 , fax : +502 232-0858 . Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.  
  • Centro guatemalteco de textiles , 5 Calle 9-41, Zona 1. Ceramic, wood and fabrics by the yard (Q15-25). Can't compete with the selection at Lin-Canola, but cheaper. In the same street you will find more shops with fabrics in the same price range, but none with the selection of Lin-Canola.
  • Central Market , between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1.

Bookstores [ edit ]

You can rarely find travel guides for the region at these places (not even a Guatemala guide).

  • 14.60002 -90.51234 1 Librería SOPHOS , 4A Avenida 12-59, Zona 10 ( in Plaza Fontabella ), ☏ +502 2419 7070 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • 14.62507 -90.51694 2 Artemis Edinter , Gran Centro Comercial Zona 4, second location at Oakland Mall, Diagonal 6, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2335 2409 . M-F 09:30-18:00, Sa 10:00-18:00 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • Mundo de los Libros a Domicilio Guatemala , La Florida, 5A Avenida 1-14 . M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa 10:00-15:00 .  

Shopping malls [ edit ]

  • La Pradera , Blv. Los Proceres, Zona 10
  • 14.59485 -90.51556 3 Gran Centro Los Próceres , 18 Calle 2-21 Zona 10, Blvd. Los Proceres , ☏ +502 2326 3400 . M-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-19:00 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • 14.59236 -90.51225 4 Unicentro , 9 Calle 5-47 , ☏ +502 2366 6384 . Su-F 10:00-19:00, Sa 10:00-20:00 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • 14.59884 -90.5073 5 Oakland Mall , Diagonal 6, Zona 10 . The newest shopping mall in the city, boasting the first restaurant aquarium in Latin America going by the Nais Aquarium.  
  • 14.62288 -90.55376 6 Tikal Futura , Calzada Roosevelt 22-43 Zona 11 . M-Sa 10:00-20:00, Su 10:00-19:00 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • 14.62232 -90.55252 7 Miraflores , 21 Avenida 4-32 Zona 11 . Su-F 10:00-20:00, Sa 10:00-21:00 . ( updated May 2022 )
  • 14.5522 -90.45301 8 Pradera Concepción , Km 15.5 de Mall Pradera Concepción, Carr. a El Salvador . In Puerta Parada, next to the road to El Salvador.  

6 Avenida (Zona 1) [ edit ]

This street has undergone massive changes and is now free of street vendors. It is almost fully pedestrianized, and is best experienced on a Sunday afternoon or early evening. Several coffeeshops and restaurants.

Aurora International Airport [ edit ]

The airport is going through remodeling in phases. The first phase, the North wing, has been finished. It is a modern design with nothing to envy from airports in developed nations. Phase two will see the construction of the South wing. When finished, the airport is said to be the most modern and largest airport in Central America being able to tend to 32 airplanes of different sizes at one time.

One thing you should take home with you from Guatemala is the prize-winning rum Ron Zacapa Centenario . If you don't drink, somebody else is bound to be very happy for a bottle of this exquisite rum. The price tag is around US$45 for a full liter, slightly cheaper than at a supermarket. There are two duty-free shops. The fancy one everybody passes by on the way to/from the gates and one at the end of the terminal behind Gate 11. The latter one is about 20% cheaper for Ron Zacapa rum. If Ron Zacapa is still too expensive for your taste, you may find a bottle of Indita Aguardiente for Q50 more to your liking. The souvenir shops have some nice things if you need some last minute gifts before you leave the country (a bit more expensive than the markets, but not too bad). The books they sell at the airport are ridiculously expensive, double or triple price of a bookstore.

ATM [ edit ]

Visa is the most common credit card for use in ATMs. In the main shopping areas, especially in Zona 10, you should have no trouble finding an ATM that takes Visa.

all 5B atm's in Guatemala take Mastercard but 5B atm's have a fee of Q40 per Q2500.

There is a Visa/MasterCard ATM at the south side of the central plaza 8 Calle 5-36, a Visa-only ATM at 5 Avenida 9-39, and a MasterCard only at the corner of 5 Avenida/11 Calle, all in Zona 1.

ATM key pads can be oriented with the 9 at the top left with the numbers descending right and down, or with the 1 at the top left with numbers ascending. If you have a spatial memory and have memorized the motion of punching in your PIN instead of the actual numerical sequence, you might be in for a surprise!

Banks (international) [ edit ]

CitiBank or Citi is found throughout the country. The retail branch in La Antigua Guatemala is a fine place to bank and perform international transactions.

Eat [ edit ]

Fast food [ edit ].

You can find quite an array of American fast food restaurants (McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.) as well as Pollo Campero which is the most popular Guatemalan fast food chain. Fast food restaurants in Guatemala are very clean and accessible only to the middle class.

Street food [ edit ]

Though a little risky, there are great street vendors that offer a variety of good local foods. Just remember to scope out the one with the best hygiene. This is the most more local.

  • Shucos can be found in carts that are usually parked in between "Estadio del Ejercito" and "Campo Marte" zona 5. They are comparable to a super charged hot dog with guacamole, meats such as "longaniza", "chorizo", and bacon. Just make sure you get the one with everything (Con todo).
  • Mangoes or cucumbers with salt, pepitoria & limón - you can also get sliced fruit such as mangoes with "pepitoria" (roasted, crushed pumpkin seeds), salt, and lemon in a small clear bag. Or sliced oranges from carts all over the city.
  • Gauchitos are also good cart foods. They are basically a pattie with scrambled egg, "chimichurri" and some dressings on a bun. You can find them in various places throughout the city. One favorite is on the "Mirador" on Carretera an El Salvador. It sits adjacent to Cafesa, diner like restaurant, on an outlook overlooking the city. You can order a "Súper Gauchito", a soda, and sit and admire the hustle and bustle of the city below.
  • Atol de Elote is a very local and custom drink made from a corn (maize) base. It's somewhat sweet and a drink you must try. It's very rich so if you're not too hungry you can substitute it for a meal. The best place to try it is on the outlook on the other side of the city leaving towards Antigua. Just before you get to San Lucas. Its also another place where you can sit and admire the city from atop a mountain.

Carretera a Antigua Guatemala [ edit ]

  • Restaurante La Abuelita , the best homemade food in San Lucas.

Zona Viva , between Avenida La Reforma, 6 Avenida, 16 Calle and 10 Calle in Zona 10 is the best place to find restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Zona 10/Zona Viva [ edit ]

  • Hacienda Real , ☏ +502 2380 8383 . 5A Avenida 14-67, Zona 10. One of the best places for steak. Try the tortillas with guacamole, frijoles (beans) and chorizo for starters, and the steak pimienta as the main course. Serves a free, delicious caldo while you wait for the meal.  
  • Tre Fratelli , 4A Avenida, inside Plaza Fontabella , ☏ +502 2420 5350 , [email protected] . Mainly Italian food.  
  • Tamarindos , ☏ +502 3296 8696 . 5 Avenida 9-27, Zona 10. Asian fusion cuisine, duck, ostrich, steak, shrimps, and maybe the best sushi in the city. Try the Moo Shu Duck, the tuna dishes, and for dessert the bread pudding with ice cream and bourbon sauce, or the chocolate surprise. Expensive cocktails, Q45.  
  • Restaurante Fridas , 16 Calle 6-72, Zona 10 ( in La Estación food court ), ☏ +502 2425 7620 . Mexican food. Chicken fajitas, Tortilla soup, pechuga de pollo en salsa de mango, pay azteca, a la flauta flautas, and for starters the queso fundido mixto (melted cheese with mushrooms) are all good. The best margaritas in Guatemala, but watch out when they ask you what kind of tequila you would like in/with it as the price might rise from the normal Q29 to Q85.  
  • Donde Mikel , 6A Avenida 13-32. Great place for steak and shrimps. Often full, so book in advance, or show up early. +502 2363 3308
  • Tapas y Cañas , part of Forum Majadas, off 26 Ave , ☏ +502 2473 7779 . 13 Calle 7-78, Zona 10. Spanish tapas. Try pinchos españoles , pinchos de pollo and albondigas de lomito . You have a choice between sitting in the restaurant or in the bar.  
  • Pizzeria Vesuvio , Blvd. los Proceres 3-35, close to Los Proceres shopping mall. Great pizza made over open fire. +502 2323 2323
  • Saint Honore , Hotel Intercontinental, 2 Avenida, Zona 10. Maybe the best coffee in Guatemala City. Serves cakes and small dishes. Expensive.
  • Zürich , 6 Avenida 12-52, Zona 10. Swiss bakery with cakes and chocolate. Also serves breakfast and lunch.
  • Hooters . Avenida La Reforma 16-01, Zona 10, local 18. The same as the ones in the USA.  
  • Friday's , 12 Calle 1-25 Zona 10, Edificio Géminis 10 and 8 Calle 26-55 Zona 11, Parque Comercial Las Majadas and at Pradera Concepción shopping mall; the same as the ones in the USA.
  • JalapeñoHabanero , 16 Calle 432. Serves excellent tacos for Q20-28 per set of three. Try the spicy pulled pork tacos. The crowd is a mix of hip locals and foreigners.
  • Chili's , 14 Calle 4-69, Zona 10. Big burgers and Tex-Mex style food. Slow service.

Zona 9 [ edit ]

  • Los Cebollines . Plaza España, 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 9.  

Zona 1 [ edit ]

  • Altuna , 5 Avenida 12-31, Zona 1. Stylish interior. Spanish and Basque cuisine, seafood and paella.
  • Hotel Pan-American , 9A Calle 5-63, Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2244 0850 , fax : +502 232 6402 . Continental restaurant.  
  • Hotel Ajau , ☏ +502 2232 0488 , [email protected] . 8a av 15-62, Zona 1. Beautiful old hotel with decorations from around Guatemala. Nice restaurant with waiters dressed in traditional costumes. Q80.  
  • El Rey Sol , 11 Calle 5-51. Vegetarian restaurant, good value. +502 2232 3516

Carretera an El Salvador

  • San Ángel , Carretera an El Salvador. Great view of the city, especially at night; security is very tight, so you can eat with no worries. Try the lomito and the one called Mar y Tierra (Sea and Land): you get a large steak and big shrimps.

Santa Catarina Pinula (suburb just above Zona 10 and the airport)

This town is historically famous for its pork products, and the best tasting, cleanest, most authentic place around is "La Cabanita" which is a quarter block directly south of the cathedral. Fresh "carnitas" Guatemalan style, plus "chicharrones", "longanizas". If you're a fan of those exotic dining-gems from the Food or Travel channels then you'll love this place.

Supermarket and food markets [ edit ]

  • Super Del Barrio Discount. supermarkets all over Guatemala city
  • Despensa Familiar Discount. has 181 stores.
  • Max Despensa has 45 stores.
  • Paiz has 27 stores.
  • Walmart Supercenter has 10 stores.
  • Dollarcity Discount. has 100 stores.
  • Central Market , between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1
  • Econo Super , Discount. Av Reforma/16 Calle (close to Obelisco ), Zona 9
  • Gourmet Center , Blv. Los Proceres, Zona 10
  • Tiendas , little grocery stores (with any name imaginable) that you can find all over the city; you can get soft drinks, beer, bread, candy, combs, razors, pens, toilet paper, any kind of snack you can think of, phone cards (some of them), etc.; cash only
  • Wal-Mart (Supermarket) , Pradera Conception mall, Pan American Hwy (CA1) near Colnia Los Flores

Drink [ edit ]

  • 4 Grados Norte . A cultural district in Zona 4 in Guatemala City. It was a project of the municipality to convert this area into an attractive pedestrian area in 2002. Many green areas were created. Today the district also features bars, restaurants, shopping and cultural activities and has become one of the city's trendy and open minded areas, competing with Zona Viva in Zona 10. The most interesting places are perhaps the ones just outside the main street. It has, however, become less popular and developed a poor reputation.  
  • Bodegita del Centro , 12 Calle 3-55, Avenidas 3/4, Zona 1.
  • El Portal , inside the complex (entrances from 8 Calle, 9 Calle and 6 Avenida) facing Parque Central, Zona 1. Supposedly Che Guevaras favorite place when he lived in Guatemala City in the early 1950s.
  • El Establo , 14 Calle 508, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 4206 9554 . Daily 12:00-01:00 . Everyone is just really chill and relaxed.  

The gay circuit in Guatemala is somewhat extensive, and it is growing every day.

  • Genetic Majestic Club , Ruta 3, near 4 Grados Norte . F Sa 19:00-0:100 . It is Guatemala's biggest gay club, where you can get for free if you come before 21:00. It has two floors, and shows a variety of music: from Latin beats to europop. US$12 .  

Sleep [ edit ]

Most accommodations in the Zona Viva are within a few blocks making location less important than amenities like airport transfers or breakfast. Check for hidden costs and taxes (22%) before booking.

Budget [ edit ]

  • Hostal GuateFriends , 16 Calle 7-40, Zona 13. Aurora 1 , ☏ +502 2261-3460 . Check-in: 15:00 , check-out: 13:00 . In Zona 13, one minute from La Aurora International Airport, safe, private parking, affordable, breakfast, lunch and dinner, international foods prepared. Breakfast served 07:00-10:00 From US$18 per person in shared rooms and US$35-40 p/p in private rooms .  
  • Pension Meza , 10 Calle 10-17, Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2230-1233 . In Zona 1, near the Parque Central, safe, cheap, basic. From US$4 p/p in shared rooms and $8 p/p in private rooms .  
  • Dos Lunas Guest House , 21 Calle 10-92, Zona 13 , fax : +502 2261-4248 , [email protected] . Free services included: airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet. Close to the airport. Dorms and privates from US$14 p/p. .  
  • Hostal Hermano Pedro , 6a Avenida 20-53, Zona 13 , ☏ +502 2261-4181 , [email protected] . Free services included :airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet. Dorms and private from US$17 p/p. Close to the airport. ( updated Jul 2019 )
  • Hostal Los Volcanes , 16 calle 8-00, Zona 13 Aurora , ☏ +502 2261-3040 , +502 2261-3584 , +502 5853-7016 , [email protected] . It is 600 m from airport La Aurora. Dorms and privates from US$15 p/p .  
  • Hotel Spring , 8 Avenida 12-65, Zona 1 , ☏ +502 232-2858 . Double room US$22. English spoken. Situated in the colonial house, it has a nice cafeteria in the courtyard. But one annoying thing is that the entrance to the bathroom is very low, expect to bang your head at least once. It also provides internet access, but the prices are a bit steep. Apart from that clean and pleasant.  
  • Quetzalroo Backpackers , 6ta Avenida 7-84 zona 10 , ☏ +502 5746-0830 . A hostel in the financial district (near the airport). It is easy to find, as it's neighbors with the McDonald's in Zona 10. The atmosphere has the laid-back Aussie aspects from Jodie and the local knowledge of Manuel, who are the owners. The rooms go for dorm US$15; Single US$20; Double US$35 .  
  • Tequila Sunrise Hostel , Ruta 5 7-33 Zona 4 , ☏ +502 3287 8723 , [email protected] . Check-in: 13.00 , check-out: 11.00 . 14 bed capsule mixed dormitory, garden, terrace, sun deck, shared lounge/tv area, baggage storage, Lockers, shared kitchen, speaks English, tour desk, free wifi in all areas. from $8 per person . ( updated Jan 2022 )

Mid-range [ edit ]

  • Hilton Garden Inn , 13 Calle 7-65, Zona 9 , ☏ +502 2423-0909 , fax : +502 2334-4546 , [email protected] . Check-in: 15:00 , check-out: 13:00 . One mile from Aurora international airport. Free shuttle. From US$89 .  
  • Best Western Stofella , 2 Avenida 12-28, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 24108600 . In the heart of Zona 10. Continental breakfast included. From US$66 .  
  • Comfort Hostel , 17 Calle 14-35 Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2367-0754 , +502 2367-0755 , [email protected] . 10 minutes to the airport, and 5 minutes to Zona Viva.  
  • Ciudad Vieja , 8 Calle 3-67, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2210-7900 , fax : +502 2331-9104 , [email protected] . Doubles from $69 + taxes with continental breakfast and one free hour internet.  
  • [dead link] Hotel Pan American , 9a Calle 5-63, Zona 1 , ☏ +502 2244-0850 , fax : +502 2232-6402 , [email protected] . Doubles from US$60. Beautiful old hotel with decorations from around Guatemala. Nice restaurant with waiters dressed in traditional costumes.  

Splurge [ edit ]

  • Barceló Guatemala City , 7 Avenida 15-49, Zona 9 , ☏ +502 2378-4000 , [email protected] . Check-in: 15:00 , check-out: 12:00 . In an early booking you can get rates from US$109 for a double. The hotel is set right in the heart of the city, in the main business district.  
  • Holiday Inn , 1 Avenida 13-22, Zona 10 , ☏ +502 2421-0000 . Check-in: 15:00 , check-out: 12:00 . Rates from US$100 in advance purchase.  
  • Westin Camino Real , 14a Calle 0-20, Zona 10 ( Avenida la Reforma y 14 Calle ), ☏ +502 2333-3000 , [email protected] . Check-in: 15:00 , check-out: 13:00 . Rates from US$120.  
  • Real InterContinental Guatemala , 14 calle 2-51, zona 10. Ciudad de Guatemala, 01010. Guatemala , ☏ +502 2413-4444 , fax : +502 2413-4445 . Offers 160 total rooms, 48 rooms club Intercontinental, 24 business room, 6 junior suites and 1 Presidential Suite, Rooms for disabled and InterContinental Ambassador floor. In their space features 3 restaurants, gymnasia, spa, jacuzzi and pool. US$100-400 .  
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel , Avenida de la Americas 9-08 Zona 13 , ☏ +502 2422-5050 , fax : +502 2422-5001 . Double rooms from US$95.  

Apartment hotels [ edit ]

  • Uxlabil , 15 Calle final, Oakland, Zona 10 . For those planning a longer stay in the city. Differently sized (mostly small) apartments with kitchen. Cleaning service included. Internet connection in the reception. Washing machine. Around $600 per month (shorter stays also possible).  

Connect [ edit ]

Phone [ edit ].

There are phone booths spread out generously over the whole city. Most of them are from the company Telgua, some from Telefónica, and most take only phone cards. Look for the sign Ladatel or Telefonica both on the phone booths and the places that sell the cards.

There are 3 cellular airtime service providers in this country. GSM frequencies used are 850, 900, and 1900 MHz. If you have an unlocked cell phone that can use one of these three frequencies, you’ll find prepaid SIM cards for sale. Should your phone be of the wrong sort to use locally, very cheap prepaid phones with airtime are said to be available for as little as Q150-200.

Internet cafes [ edit ]

  • Global Net Cafe , Edificio Plaza Vivar, 6 Avenida/10 Calle, Zona 1. 1 room in the 1st floor and 4 in the 2nd. M-Sa 09:30-18:00. Q3.50/hour.
  • Cyber Blue , 1st floor, Edificio Plaza Vivar, 6 Avenida/10 Calle, Zona 1. M-Sa 08:00-18:00 Q4/hour, 18:00-20:00 Q6/hour. Scan, print, burn services.

Post office [ edit ]

La Dirección General de Correos y Telégrafos the government agency overseeing the post office (El Correo de Guatemala) serves as the post office for Guatemala. The main post office is in 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 1. A stamp for a postcard to Europe costs around Q4. The postal system in Guatemala has a reputation for not being very reliable, and many Guatemalans have a post office box in Texas where they receive post, magazines and online purchases (brought to Guatemala by courier). You can buy stamps or post mail only at the post offices or its affiliates:

  • 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 1
  • The airport, Zona 13
  • Av. Reforma/14 Calle, Zona 9

Stay safe [ edit ]

Guatemala City has a high level of crime. Crimes include carjackings on the road from the airport, robberies and assaults of tourist vans, ordinary buses and cars.

Even though it has a lot of crime, if you use some common sense and good travel practices, you should not be exposed to any of it. Make sure you sharpen your street smarts because as with any other big metropolitan urban area, you might be exposed to crime. Just make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times just as you would be in any big city around the world.

If you experience a robbery, give away anything the robbers want. Though some would suggest to just stay inside in most places after sunset, at night you can have fun safely in Zona Viva (Zona 10), Zona 14, or 4 Grados Norte.

But despite some of its negative aspects, Guatemala City is the largest Central American capital city, and one of the most beautiful in Latin America, with varied and rich culture. It is important that visitors not return to their hotels too late, and that they don’t walk alone in dark places, but as long as they keep this in mind, they should have a beautiful stay.

Stay healthy [ edit ]

Guatemala City is at a somewhat high elevation (about 1500 m) in the mountains (plus the air is very polluted in Zona 1), so if you are coming from a location near sealevel, you might wish to plan to take it easy and get extra rest on your first day while your body adjusts to the altitude.

Also, make sure that any food that you eat is well-washed and well-cooked, or you might get quite ill.

  • Centro Médico , 6 Avenida 3-47, Zona 10. ☏ +502 334-2157 , ☏ +502 384-2600 , ☏ +502 332-3555 . 24-hour service.
  • Hospital Bella Aurora , 10 Calle 2-31, Zona 14. Tel 384-3535. 24-hour service.
  • Hospital Universitario Esperanza , 6 Avenida 7-49, Zona 10. ☏ +502 362-8626 .

Pharmacy [ edit ]

Pharmacies are all over the city.

Cope [ edit ]

If you have electrical equipment that need 220-240 V 50 Hz input instead of the country's standard 110 V 60 Hz, you can find a transformer at Electronica Panamericana, 3 Avenida y 11 Calle, Esquina, Zona 9. They have various models with prices depending on how much power you require. Q230 for a 500-watt transformer.

Also, in the smaller hotels and motels, the electrical outlets only take 2-pronged plugs. So, if you have a laptop that has a 3-pronged plug for the charger, for example, you'll need a plug adapter that will allow you to use the 2-pronged outlets.

Embassies [ edit ]

Being the national capital, Guatemala City hosts a lot of embassies. A majority of them are clustered in the areas east and northeast of the airport grounds in Zonas 10 & 14. There are others north of the airport runway in Zona 9 as well. A number of countries maintain a non-resident diplomatic representation to Guatemala from their embassy in Mexico City , Havana or elsewhere in the region while other embassies in Guatemala City are accredited as a non-resident embassy to Belize, Honduras and/or other neighboring countries in Central America. The following countries maintain an embassy in Guatemala City:

Go next [ edit ]

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Explore Guatemala City

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10 Things to Know Before Visiting Guatemala City

Catedral Metropolitano, Guatemala City

Despite its historically bad reputation, the Guatemala City is a great place to spend a few days. Here’s what you should know before you travel.

Mayan culture is still very visible.

The indigenous Maya are still strongly represented. You will notice them in their brightly-coloured traditional dress wherever you go, and many people speak one of the 23 Mayan dialects from around the country.

Traditional Mayan dress is a common sight in Guatemala City

Zones 1 and 4 are the trendiest

Beautiful art deco buildings remain standing.

The main shopping street, 6th Avenue in Zone 1, is lined with some great examples of art deco architecture. Check out Edificio Engel and the LUX cinema among others.

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Visit the markets

Guatemala City is home to 23 public markets selling produce from across the country. The biggest one is La Terminal in Zone 4, while the most tourist-friendly is the Mercado Central in Zone 1. Here you can pick up souvenirs and see the huge piles of produce, flowers and other goods for sale.

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There are some great museums and galleries

Check out the indigenous Mayan textiles at the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena , or learn about Mayan beliefs at the Museo Popol Vuh. Take a look at the National Museum of Modern Art, or visit galleries such as the 9.99 or Proyectos Ultravioleta. Make sure to visit the National Palace of Culture too.

Music is a forte

There are many emerging artists in Guatemala City , from 8-bit duo Dinosaur 88 to punk group Gamezan. Check the listings at bars such as SOMA and venues like La Erre and Proyecto Poporopo to catch the next big thing.

The traffic is terrible

Always set aside extra time if you have an appointment to keep because Guatemala City is famous for its traffic. In fact the city was found to be the 5th-worst in the world for drivers by navigation app Waze.

Traffic is a common sight in Guatemala

Public transport is an issue

While the Transmetro bus system is fairly fast and safe, its routes are sorely limited. There are other red buses that you’ll see flying around, but they’re a magnet for crime and difficult to navigate unless you speak Spanish. Using Uber is the safest option.

Red bus in Guatemala City

There is no public transport to the airport

You can get off your plane and negotiate with a taxi if you feel like it, but you’re better off arranging a transfer before you arrive. There are shuttle companies that make the journey to Antigua, or you can book a taxi for a fixed price before you arrive.

Keep your wits about you

While things aren’t as dangerous as they used to be, it’s still not wise to enter certain districts or walk around by yourself at night. Use Uber to get around rather than local taxis, and stick to the tourist friendly Zones 1, 2, 4, 10 and 14.

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Guatemala City

Central America's largest metropolis has what you'd expect from an urban area of 2.5 million people—the best selection of hotels, restaurants, nightlife, and museums in the country. Yet most tourists come to Guatemala for ancient ruins, colonial towns, flamboyant markets, and spectacular volcanoes and lakes—not to explore a large, mostly modern city with a questionable reputation for security.

If time is tight, we certainly wouldn't recommend lingering in Guatemala City instead of, say, Lake Atitlán or Antigua. But if you have a couple of extra days, the capital, once known as "the Jewel of Latin America," does offer some unique attractions, all located within just a few of the city's 21 zones. Whereas the narrow streets of the Old City can be chaotic, the quieter, more polished streets of the New City, with their fine restaurants and comfortable hotels, can be a much-needed dose of civilization after hitting the country's more remote sights. Toss in visits to a couple of impressive museums, and Guatemala City might surprise you. Who knows, if you stay in the capital long enough, you just might start using the same affectionate name residents give to their city: "Guate."

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Guatemala City travel guide

Guatemala city tourism | guatemala city guide, you're going to love guatemala city.

Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala, and sees the past and present combine in a fascinating way. You will encounter old churches in one area, and find many modern restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping malls in another part of the city.

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Guate, as the locals call it, hides some curiosities such as Mayan ruins and the Mapa en Relieve de Guatemala, a huge map of the region that you have to witness from above. There are also plenty of museums where you can learn about the country's history and culture.

Your trip to Guatemala City would not be complete without trying the delicious street food, discovering traditional Guatemalan fare, and eating at a restaurant featuring a live marimba band. The street markets are an unforgettable experience and the perfect occasion to interact with locals.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Guatemala City

1. admire the antique architecture.

Classic architecture abounds, and the city's churches are emblematic of this. Visit the Iglesia Yurrita, the Catedral Metropolitana de Guatemala, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, or El Calvario.

2. Visit Museums

You can learn about traditional dress and see some amazing paintings at the Museo Ixchel. The National Museum of Modern Art in Zona 13 is worth visiting and so is the Popol Vuh Museum in Zona 10 if you are interested in archaeology.

3. Explore Mayan Ruins

Head to Zona 7 to see the ruins of Kaminaljuyu, a former Mayan city. Some mounds are visible from the exterior, and you can explore some excavations. Visit the Museo Miraflores in Zona 13 to learn more about the ruins.

4. Shop on the Plaza Central

The Plaza Central is one of the main attractions of Guatemala City. This is where you will find the Central Market where you can shop for souvenirs and sample street food. Take a stroll on the Plaza Central on Sundays to see live music and art performances.

5. Discover the Zona Viva

The Zona Viva is a small area inside of Zona 10 with a high concentration of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. You can eat dinner at Kacao, where your food will be served by waiters in traditional dress, before dancing the night away at the Secret Garden.

What to do in Guatemala City

1. catedral primada metropolitana de santiago: be brought to your knees.

Dating back to the late 18th century, the massive Catedral Primada Metropolitana has withstood severe earthquakes and regime changes to make it to the present. A site of pilgrimage for the faithful, its artistic, cultural and historic importance make it a worthwhile visit for people of all religious persuasions. Visit and you're sure to be blown away by the classic art found within the cathedral. It's a wonderful place to begin an architectural tour of the capital of Guatemala.

2. Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena: Admire the Art of the Maya

This museum is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Maya artists past and present. With art and artifacts dating back hundreds of years, the museum takes guests on a journey through each step of the textile process. As you walk through its exhibition halls, you'll get a close-up view of the methods and technologies developed by these storied peoples. You're also sure to be impressed with the beauty of the patterns and designs of different clothing, blankets and tapestries produced in the area.

3. Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias: Take Guatemala's Cultural Pulse

This cultural center is situated in the city's civic center, and it's built in the shape of a seated jaguar. Bearing the name of Nobel Laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias, it is home to a dizzying array of dance, theater, and arts performances and exhibits throughout the year. If you're interested in arts and culture, this is an absolute must during your stay in Guatemala. Events cater both to locals and visitors, and the complex is large enough to suit all tastes.

4. National Palace of Culture: An Interesting Fusion of Architecture

One of the most imposing buildings in the city, the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura towers over the Parque Central. Fusing Spanish Renaissance and neoclassical traditions, the structure is a must-see. Guided tours take visitors through the halls, where they can enjoy murals, sculptures and banquet halls. Visitors get to see the presidential balcony, stained-glass windows that elevate the religious status and various other items of interest. It's a great way to learn about the history of the city and country.

5. Museo Popol Vuh: Explore Historic Art

This world-renowned museum is home to one of the world's largest exhibits of Maya artifacts. Situated on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquin, the collection spans pre-Columbian and colonial art. Everything from funerary ceramic art to stone sculptures can be found within the halls. Visit, and you'll be treated to exhibits that rival those of any major museum in the world. Of special note is the Maya pottery, which includes incredibly well-preserved vases and bowls. This is definitely a trip that is fun for the whole family, and your kids might even enjoy it more than you do.

Activities & attractions in Guatemala City

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Where to Eat in Guatemala City

Zona 5 and Zona 1 are the best areas to find street vendors offering shucos, sliced mangoes, and gauchitos. The best restaurant in Zona 1 is San Ángel, because of the view and steak and shrimp. Zona 10 is where you will find most of the restaurants. Casa Chapina is the best place for traditional fare and live marimba music, or head to Hacienda Real for great steaks. A meal at most restaurants should cost Q30 to Q45, a mid-range meal should cost Q50 to Q100, and eating at an upscale restaurant can cost Q200 or more.

When to visit Guatemala City

The climate is warm and humid during the summer. You should ideally plan your trip to Guatemala City between November and March for drier and cooler weather. The month of August can be busy because of the Fiesta Patronal de la Virgen de la Asunción, but this is an occasion to see fireworks and parades.

How to Get to Guatemala City

La Aurora International Airport (GUA) is located in the southern portion of the city in Zona 13, about five miles from the center. You can ride a bus to any other area for only Q1. You can take a taxi from the airport to Zona 10 for Q90, while some hotels offer a free shuttle service.

Driving in Guatemala is not easy due to the fact that roads are not well marked. You can follow highway CA-1 if you come from the Mexican border or highway CA-8 if you come from San Salvador. Highway CA-9 connects Guatemala City with Escuintla to the south, and highway CA-19 can be followed to reach Guatemala City if you are coming from the east of the country.

Chicken buses or trambillas are a popular transportation method to get from one city to another. You can take a chicken bus to Guatemala City from any city in Guatemala. The cost of a trip is calculated based on how long the trip is, and you will usually pay Q10 per hour. Many first-class buses will also take you to Guatemala City. You can take the bus from Antigua for only Q8, from Puerto Barrios for Q80, and from Flores for Q80. Intercity and international bus companies include Ticabus and Línea Dorada, and bus stops are scattered throughout the city.

Airports near Guatemala City

Airlines serving guatemala city, where to stay in guatemala city.

Most hotels are located in Zona 10. Comfort Hostel and Hotel Mansión Imperial are good choices if you are looking for affordable accommodation in this area. If you would rather stay in Zona 1, consider the Hotel Pan American. The Hotel Barceló Guatemala City in Zona 9 is a good choice if you are looking for a more upscale experience.

Popular Neighborhoods in Guatemala City

Zona 1 - this is the Centro Histórico, where most of the attractions are. You can spend an afternoon shopping on the Plaza Central, or tour the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura to see the artwork and murals and learn about the country's history.

Zona 10 - this is a more modern area with hotels, restaurants, bars, and shopping malls. The Zona Viva is where you will find most of the nightclubs and bars.

Zona 13 - this area is worth visiting if you want to catch a soccer game at the Domo Polideportivo de la CDAG or discover South American fauna at the La Aurora Zoo.

Where to stay in popular areas of Guatemala City

Most booked hotels in guatemala city, how to get around guatemala city, public transportation.

There are three different bus systems in Guatemala City, and the fare is only Q1 regardless of where you are going or which system you use. The Transmetro buses are green and there are only two routes. You can ride the Transurbano buses, which are blue and white, if you have a prepaid SIGA card. This is a more convenient option since there are more stops and more routes, including one that will take you from Zona 1 to Zona 10. There are also chicken buses, which are painted red; these will stop anywhere along their route if you ask the driver.

Yellow taxis use meters. There is a minimum price of Q25, and you will typically pay Q8 per mile. You will also find white taxis, which are not formerly registered and do not use a meter. Prices can vary since you will have to negotiate with the driver. Get a driver's contact card and call them again if you can negotiate a good rate with them.

Driving can be difficult in Guatemala City due to lack of road markings and proper signs. If you choose to drive, you can rent a car for Q450 a day at the Hertz, Alamo, or National Car Rental agencies inside of the airport. You can also rent a local driver for around Q300 a day.

Best car rental deals in Guatemala City

2 Adults, 2 Bags

4 Adults, 2 Bags

The Cost of Living in Guatemala City

Shopping streets.

The Plaza Central is the best place to shop for souvenirs, crafts, and textiles. Visit the Mercado de Artesanias in Zona 13 if you want more shopping options for traditional textiles and clothes. You will find more modern shopping malls in Zona 10 and 11, including the Oakland Mall, Arkadia Shopping Mall, and La Pradera, where you can buy clothes and accessories.

Groceries and Other

The Plaza Central is the best place to find fresh food. There's a Walmart near the airport, the Hiper Paiz Supermarket in Zona 1, and the Econo Super in Zona 9. There are many small family-owned grocery and convenience stores everywhere in the city. A quart of milk typically costs Q12, a loaf of bread should cost Q13, and you will have to spend around Q17 for a dozen eggs.

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15 Top Attractions & Things to Do in Guatemala

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The historic country of Guatemala is a testament to the ancient world. Home to some of Central America’s oldest Mesoamerican civilizations, Guatemala is dotted with crumbling ruins, stone temples, and age-old villages.

While many people come to explore the multitudes of archeological sites, Guatemala is also known for its spectacular landscape and natural tourist attractions. With black sand beaches, molten volcanoes, and dense, tree-lined jungles, you’ll be amazed at the diverse list of things to do in Guatemala.

The country also has a rich and distinctive culture from the long mix of elements from Spain and the native Maya people. Whether you’re interested in history or outdoor adventure, be prepared to be blown away by Guatemala.

15. El Mirador

El Mirador

Nestled deep in the heart of the Petén Jungle are the mysterious ruins of El Mirador. Many of the structures date back to the 6th-century BC, including the world’s largest pyramid from pre-Columbian America. Covered in a shroud of vines and dense vegetation, El Mirador is a rare glimpse into the history of the Mayan culture.

Due to its remote location, traveling to El Mirador requires a bit of planning. The village of Carmelita is the nearest point to the ruins that you can go by car. From there it takes a grueling trek of at least five days and four nights through the jungle with ants, ticks and mosquitoes that never relent. That said, people who make this journey will never forget it.

It’s recommended to visit El Mirador with a tour that can organize mule or horse transportation, as well as camping accommodation.

14. Livingston


The colorful beachside town of Lívingston is the perfect destination for a bit of relaxation. Lívingston is unlike other cities in Guatemala because of its laid-back tropical atmosphere, which is more reminiscent of a village in the Caribbean.

Besides sunbathing on the beach, you’ll have an entire outdoor world to explore during your visit. Explore the lush jungles on the banks of the Rio Dulce, cool off in the emerald pools of the Los Siete Altares waterfalls, or go snorkeling in the turquoise waters of Zapotillo Cayes.

Make sure to spend some time in the town itself, where you can indulge in fresh seafood and soak in the unique blend of these two different cultures.


The impressive structures at Nakúm are some of the best-preserved examples of Mesoamerican architecture. Although it’s one of the largest Mayan communities in the country, it’s often the least crowded due to its secluded location on the Holmul River. Because of the rough conditions, the road leading to Nakúm is only open several months out of the year and requires a 4×4 to reach.

The highlight of Nakúm is the South Acropolis. This raised platform consists of 12 courtyards and 33 individual buildings that were once used as homes during the Late Classic Period. You can also visit the different pyramids surrounding the courtyard of the Central Plaza.

12. Monterrico


Guatemala might not be known for its sun-soaked beaches, but Monterrico proves to be the exception. This laid-back town is world-renowned for its stark black volcanic sand beaches.

If you happen to visit Monterrico between June and December, then you have a good chance of spotting sea turtles, who come to the beaches to breed and lay their eggs. You can also visit Tortugario Monterrico (Monterrico’s turtle conservation center) to get up close and personal with the newly hatched babies. Every day before sunset, you can watch as Tortugario Monterrico releases the turtles back into the ocean.

11. Todos Santos Cuchumatan

Todos Santos Cuchumatán

Dive headfirst into local Mayan traditions with a visit to Todos Santos Cuchumatán. Due to the village’s remote location in the Western Highlands, it has managed to preserve century-old Mayan and indigenous traditions that have disappeared throughout the rest of the country. Most residents in the town are of Mayan descent. Not only do they still speak the rare Mam language, but they also tend to dress in traditional clothing.

The best time to visit Todos Santos Cuchumatán is in early November for the All Saints’ Day festival. This celebration is full of dancing, music, and traditional horse racing.


The colorful islet of Flores is marked by bright red roofs, narrow cobblestone streets, and beautiful colonial buildings. It’s located in Lago Petén Itzá and can be reached by the connecting road next to Santa Elena and San Benito.

You can walk around the entire island in just 20-30 minutes, although most tourists prefer to rent a bike or canoe and explore the area at their leisure. Besides admiring the historic architecture, don’t forget to stop by the Catedral Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios y San Pablo Itzá. This bright white cathedral is the highlight of the island.

9. Semana Santa

Semana Santa

Guatemala during Semana Santa is one of the most festive times of the year. Also known as Holy Week, Semana Santa is celebrated widely throughout Latin American; however, the biggest celebration takes place right in Antigua.

The city is transformed by colorful decorations, live music, and endless amounts of food and drink. The main attraction of the festival is the Palm Sunday parade. During the processional, you’ll see dozens of parade floats, as well as people dressed up in purple robes with white waistbands.

8. Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano

The active Pacaya Volcano is one of the most stunning natural landmarks in Guatemala. After it’s 70-year dormant period, the volcano has been erupting continuously since the early 1960s, with the largest eruption occurring just in 2014. Despite the perceived danger, it remains one of the biggest tourist attractions in Guatemala.

A hike to the top of the volcano takes just around two hours and provides sweeping views of the entire surrounding area. You’ll even find food stands along the way selling marshmallows that you can roast over the heat of the volcanic rock!

7. Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce

One of Guatemala’s most beloved natural gems is the Rio Dulce. The river flows out of Lake Izabal, site of the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, an old Spanish colonial fort built in 1644 to keep Caribbean pirates from the river.

The river today boasts one of the largest bridges in Central America. On one side of the bridge is Frontera, known for a vegetable market where many shoppers arrive in dugout canoes. On its journey to the Caribbean, the river flows through a high-walled spectacular gorge. The river enters near Livingston, a Garifuna town which can only be reached by boat.

6. Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey

Hidden among the limestone mountains and dense forest shrubs is one of Guatemala’s most breathtaking sights – Semuc Champey. With cascading turquoise pools, underground caves, and flowing waterfalls, Semuc Champey is a slice of paradise in the middle of the jungle.

Getting to Semuc Champey can be difficult. From the town of Lanquin, it’s either a 2.5-hour walk or a 4×4 taxi drive to the entrance of the falls. Along with your swimsuit, don’t forget to bring sturdy shoes, as the entire area can be rugged and slippery.

5. Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango Market

Every Thursday and Sunday, Guatemala throws the largest market in all of Central America. Located in the heart of Chichicastenango, this market is your one-stop-shop for all your shopping needs.

Stacked back to back are hundreds of stalls selling different Mayan handicrafts, like textiles, wood carvings, leather goods, and other souvenirs. You can also find a variety of snacks, fresh produce, and even livestock. It’s important to practice your bargaining skills and pay no more than 50% of the asking price.


If El Mirador piqued your passion for archeological sites, then you’ll want to add Yaxha to your Guatemala bucket list. It’s smaller than the more famous Tikal, but still the third largest Mayan ruins in Guatemala . Yaxha was the ceremonial center of the pre-Columbian Mayan kingdom. Its indigenous name translates as blue-green water, appropriate since it overlooks a lake.

From 250 – 600 AD, Yaxhá was one of the largest ruling civilizations in Mesoamerica. It was believed to have over 40,000 inhabitants living just within the kingdom itself. Nowadays, you can visit Yaxhá and explore more than 500 ruins that tell the story of this ceremonial and influential ancient city.

While you could easily spend an entire day in Yaxhá, there are a few sights you shouldn’t miss. The South Acropolis was considered the heart of the city and contains ball courts, elite residences, and several temples. You should also see Plaza A, which has one of the last remaining twin-peaked pyramids outside of Tikal.

3. Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala

The charming Spanish Baroque buildings and colorful colonial churches make the mountainous city of Antigua one of the most visited destinations in Guatemala. Marvel at The Catedral de Santiago, shop at the Handicrafts Market or hang out with locals in Parque Central.

Antigua was once the capitol city of Guatemala, up until the year 1773 when a massive earthquake decimated the town. In 1776, it was ordered abandoned and what had once been a buzzing and vibrant capitol city took on the aura of a quiet provincial town.

Make sure also to snap a few photos of the iconic el Arco de Santa Catarina. This bright yellow building was built in the 17th-century as a way for nuns to cross the street without going outside. With the cloud covered mountains in the background, it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Guatemala.

2. Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán was described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world. Situated in the Guatemalan highlands, the lake is a stunning exhibition of natural splendor and offers plenty of things to do in the outdoors.

Rent a boat and sail across the deepest lake in Central America, or strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails to explore the depths of the surrounding landscape. For something more adventurous, you can also soar high above the lake and valleys by paragliding off the cliffs of the mountains.

The lake is also near to several rural villages, including San Pedro and San Juan. Stop by for lunch, or simply to mingle with a few of the friendly locals.


The archeological site of Tikal is possible the most important attraction to visit in Guatemala. As one of the most powerful civilizations in the Mayan Kingdom, Tikal dominated the region for over 700 years, with most of the buildings dating back to the 4th-century BC.

Comprised of towering temples, massive royal palaces, and limestone pyramids, there are hundreds of structures to explore during your visit. The North Acropolis and Plaza of Seven Temples are two of the most impressive buildings on site. You should also visit Tikal Temple I, which was the tomb for King Jasaw Chan Kʼawiil I.

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Reader interactions.

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May 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

“Chichicastenango Market is gorgeous. It would be amazing to go there someday” (Alex). Amen to that! I love Chichicastenango Market with its vibrant colors.

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November 5, 2016 at 7:19 pm

For kids, the Irtra attraction parks is a must to do. There’s no other place where you can find attractions with that mayan identity. There is a representation of the Great Jaguar, on Tikal. Also the San Felipe de Lara but with boats for kids and the hotels are relaxing for adults. Recently they open a local flight to save time travelling.

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June 5, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I’m planning my first trip to Guatemala next summer with my 9 year old son. I plan to visit the ruins and other attractions. Especially looking forward to indulge in their culture and food.

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August 29, 2015 at 7:15 pm

I spent a summer in Guatemala back in 85 as a foreign exchange student. So I not only did the tourist thing but my hosts took me all over the place and we did things like fishing in a beautiful river/stream off the beaten path. We also climbed volcano Agua 12,340 feet. More of a good hike than mountain climbing. Didn’t go to Tikal but went to most of the other places. The entire country is absolutely stunning and breathtaking with its natural beauty. I’ll never forget it and want to go back some day when I have the time.

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May 20, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I was born and raised in the south of Guatemala and I have been living in California for 25 years. Guatemala is a beautiful country, I definitely recommend to visit Lake Amatitlan in Panajachel, the ruins in Tikal, Antigua Guatemala, Belice, Semuc champey, Esquipulas Temple, Xocomil in Retauleu.. Guatemala is an amazing country to visit and it will be a great experience for anyone who visits 🙂

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February 15, 2015 at 6:51 pm

I love guatemala it is to me one of the most beutiful countries in the world

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February 10, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Planning to backpack in Guatemala for a month next January. Is it safe? Areas to avoid?

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April 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Chichicastenango Market is gorgeous. It would be amazing to go there someday.

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September 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Great selections and definitely places to see, but you left out what is possibly the most beautiful place to see in Guatemala. Semuc Champey in Coban. If anyone is coming, definitely need to do some research and get there.

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December 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I like beaches, the best time to capture beach image is sunset. This is an informative blog, sharing the Livingston and most visited spot in Guatemala are great.

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December 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I lived in Guatemala for about a year when I was a kid. I returned about 30 years later. It was the happiest year of my childhood, and 30 years later, it was everything that I remembered. My trip to Tikal will go down in memory as one of the most exciting trips ever.

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November 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Wow. That picture of Santa Catalina Arch reminds me so much of Leon, Nicaragua. I guess it must be the Spanish-type architechture. Looks amazing. Never been to Guatemala, but that place along with Lago de Atitlan look spectacular and definitely worthy of a visit!

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October 1, 2012 at 7:48 am

Visiting Tikal is always been something I’ve wanted to do. I actually plan on heading there next year and can hardly wait for that to come. I’ll have to make sure I hit most of these other attractions as well.

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September 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Would love to visit Volcan Pacaya. I’ve always wanted to see an active volcano erupt.

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guatemala City Travel Guide

Oh, Guatemala City . There are a lot of things to do in Guatemala city that you will hear. After you visit, I can assure you will also have a lot of things to say about it too. You will quickly notice that it is not a tourist place as you won’t find a lot of information about places to visit or places to stay on Google.

When you approach a tourist agency and mention you want to visit Guatemala City, they will immediately tell you that it is not worth it. Instead, they offer other places like Antigua, Lake Atitlan , Rio Dulce , Semuc Champey , and Flores . Those places are really amazing and are worth visiting, but Guatemala City also has many attractions, interesting buildings, and tons of history to tell from which you will have a clearer idea of why Guatemala is the country that it is today.

And so, that is why I’m here. I have gathered information to make this guide as complete as possible such as places to visit in Guatemala, things to do in Guatemala city and best time to visit Guatemala. So, you can make informed decisions and enjoy your visit.

A Little Bit Of History

You won’t be able to understand many things about Guatemala City if you don’t understand some history, that’s why I’ve squeezed almost 500 years of happenings in a few paragraphs:

Guatemala City is actually the fourth capital this country has had since the Spanish colonization in 1524. The first capital was settled in what is known as the archeological site of Iximche, the second was what is known today as Ciudad Vieja, and the third was what we know today as the city of Antigua . Finally, in 1776 the capital moved to where it is today.

That may sound like a lot of effort to move the capital over and over again for such a “young” country since they signed their independence from Spain in 1821, but history didn’t happen like that because Guatemalans like to move around. You can blame mother nature since the reasons are one major flooding and two earthquakes that left buildings underground or destroyed. Thankfully, anti-seismic buildings began to spread, and the city has remained where it is.

Though, it hasn’t been easy to stay afloat, since after those happenings, also a 36-year civil war happened in this country that ended in the mid 90’s. This event, in particular, has scared many Guatemalans around the country, and you will see some memorials on your way around the city.

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Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and  Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

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guatemala city travel guide

Click for other Guatemala Trips Guide

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Quick Tip:  Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Guatemala City Tours :  Click here to check out the top Guatemala City tours Best Guatemala City Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Guatemala City Best Guatemala City Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Guatemala City

Top 10 Things to do In Guatemala City

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1. Go to Plaza de La Constitucion

This is the heart of Guatemala City with a whole lot of history of revolutions. You will see the National Palace where for Q40 you can get a tour inside the stunning building. On the other side of the plaza, you will find the Metropolitan Cathedral. This is one of the best places to visit in Guatemala

Also, something not to be missed while you are there is Sixth Avenue, you can walk through it and arrive at another important building, the old Palace of the National Police.

Do you remember I mentioned memorials from the Civil War? If you walk Sixth Avenue, at the entrance of Pasaje Rubio, you will find two small plates as a memorial of the place where Oliverio Castañeda was murdered. He was a young student, leader, and human rights activist in the 70’s.

2. Walk Around Centro Civico

The history junkies have had their share with the Plaza de la Constitucion, now is time for the architecture and art junkies. Head to the Centro Civico and look for the Finance Buildings, National Bank, CHN, and IGSS. All of these buildings have postmodern low relief murals from two very famous Guatemalan artists, Rodolfo Galiotti Torres and Efrain Recinos.

3. Visit Museo del Popol Vuh

If you are into Mayan history, this is one of the main places to go to if you are in Guatamala City. This museum is owned by Francisco Marroquin University. Here, you will find pre-Hispanic and colonial pieces that range from 15,000 BC to 1,821 when the independence from all the central American countries was signed.

4. Head to Museo de Historia Fuerte de San Jose

This place is not known by many, not even by Guatemala people. This fortress was built in 1842 to protect the city. Of course, at that time, the city was a lot smaller.

After that, it was abandoned, then used as a jail, and a military school. Nowadays, is a military museum next to a theater. This should be one of the places to visit in Guatemala if you want to have a unique story to tell later on!

5. Discover Ciudad Cayala

This will be something that is different from everything else you’ll see in Guatamala City and should be added in your Places to Visit in Guatemala List.

Imagine a small city inside of another city, built as a mall with stores and restaurants, but also with apartments. That is what this place is. It is actually the place where wealthy people live, but it is open to anyone who wants to visit. But what makes this place so interesting is the architecture and sculptures that are totally different from everything else you’ll see in Guatemala .

6. Buy Souvenirs at Mercado Central

From posh to the somehow charming chaos of Guatemala people culture, the Mercado Central . It is not the biggest Mercado in the country, but it is HUGE! Artisans, farmers, food, textiles, butchers, toys, grains, you name it.

People from all around the country gather there to sell their products. Well, shopping is always a plus in the list of your things to do in Guatemala city right? A word of warning, though, you will need to put your bargaining abilities to the test here.

7. Go to the Archeological Site, Kaminaljuyu

Guatamala City is the land of the Maya so maybe by now, you have heard of the ancient city of Tikal. It is an archeological site in the middle of the city. Kaminaljuyu goes hundreds of years before Tikal and if you are lucky, you can see a real Mayan ceremony while you visit.

8. Walk Past Iglesia de la Yurrita

This is not a place in Guatemala City where you can spend much time, but it is a stunning building inside and out. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public so you can only see it from outside or if you are lucky, you can catch a special event such as a wedding happening.

It is a chapel with a mix of Roman, neoclassic, baroque, and neo gothic architecture. So, maybe the best time to visit Guatemala if you consider going here is when you know when the future event will be held there.

9. Go Back in Time at Museo del Ferrocarril

Once upon a time, there was a train that connected the main Guatemala people ports in the south, the Caribbean, and Guatamala City. In the beginning, it worked only to transport goods from the ports. Later on, it was also used for travelers.

Unfortunately, problems with the United Fruit Company happened in the late 1950s, so cars and roads became more popular, causing the trains to stop working. Nowadays, you can see all the old machines in this museum.

10. Eat at 4 Grados Norte

4 Grados Norte has become one of the best places to visit in Guatemala recommended by Guatemala people. Here, you can eat different kinds of food, party or relax with a good coffee.

You will also find offices. If you want to visit this place, the safest way is by arriving on the transmetro from La Sexta Avenida in Zone 1. DON’T USE THE OTHER LINES OF TRANSMETRO because they’ll take you through the most unsafe parts of the city. You can also call an Uber.

Guatemala City Travel Guide | Museo del Ferrocarril

Food in guatemala City

In Guatemala City, there is food for everybody. Thing is, you have to really look for it.

Restaurante Giratorio

This is the restaurant of Vista Quince hotel . The restaurant is located at the top of the not-so-tall building, but there aren’t many tall buildings in Guatamala City anyways. 

Here, you can enjoy a delicious meal and cocktail.

The best time to visit Guatemala if you want to try Restaurante Giratorio is in the late afternoon. At that time, you could enjoy the views of the city, volcanoes, and the sunset.

A fusion in Guatemala with a touch of molecular food here and there, this restaurant has plenty of options to let your senses go wild!

Shucos del Liceo de Guatemala

If you are looking for a less fancy place and taste one of the signature foods that every person in Guatemala City will know (even if they try to deny it), you have to taste Los shucos del Liceo. The word “shuco” actually means dirty, but don’t let this discourage you because you are in for a local treat! If you are wondering what they are, they are big toasted bread, kind of like tortas but very different, with avocado, cabbage, chimichurri sauce, ketchup mayonnaise, mustard, and you can choose if you want it with sausage, chorizo, beef, longaniza, etc.

Donde Joselito Steakhouse

If you don’t eat meat, keep scrolling because this place is ALL ABOUT MEAT! You can probably guess that by the name of the place.

Restaurante El Portal

Better known as El Portalito, this is one of the oldest restaurants in the whole country that has been open since 1932. Once you step in, it is like a journey to the past. Not only the owners have managed to keep the architecture almost intact, but also you will be able to taste old bar foods that have almost disappeared and tap beer. It reminds me of a Guatemalan-style pub.

Vegetarian and Vegan friendly Restaurants in Guatemala City

Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are not yet too popular in Guatemala City as they are in Antigua or Lake Atitlan , but there are a few I can name:

A nice place to eat a whole meal or grab a snack at their bakery.

Lavka Guatemala

This is the place where a vegan can be let loose without any kind of remorse.

Guatemala City Money Saving Tips

Buy souvenirs at Mercado central. Most of the time, hotels will have the same products at much higher prices. 

Look for accommodation or restaurants with a buffet when you visit Guatemala Cities. The best time to visit Guatemala if you want a buffet restaurant would be on weekends. Some restaurants will have buffets on weekends since those are the days the families go out to eat.

If you stay longer than one month, buy a no-contract plan instead of a pre-paid sim card. I also recommend you to buy e-sim . If you stay less than one month, you can buy a pre-paid sim card since you’ll need it for Uber or Google Maps.

There are only two phone companies, Tigo and Claro. Tigo is a bit more expensive, but it has better phone service. On the other hand, if you continue your travels to other central American countries, you can use your Claro sim card in some other countries. Always make sure to do your research.

Take Some Spanish Classes 

If you want to save money during your trip in Guatemala cities then one sure-fire way to do so is to take some Spanish classes . It’s available in many Guatemala cities. Amazing how things magically become cheaper when you speak to the person selling those things in their language. From getting the right fare from the taxi driver to haggling at the market, think of the money spent on learning Spanish as an investment. Read this to learn more about my experience of learning Spanish in Guatemala . You can also now take a basic travel Spanish course completely online with Heart of Travel. This way you will already have a decent foundation before you arrive. Click here to learn more.

Guatemala City Travel Guide | Guatemalan doll | Guatemalan textiles

Guatemala City Packing Advice

Pack discrete clothing. This applies to both men and women. By discrete I mean t-shirts , jeans , jumpers , hats , sneakers , and maybe tank tops . Shorts , dresses , mini skirts, or anything in between are not advisable unless you are chilling at your hotel or moving in a car to a restaurant or attraction.

There are only two seasons when you talk about Guatemala cities weather, sun and rain. During the rainy months from April to October, make sure to pack a good hair mask, and a raincoat or umbrella and prepare for some serious rain that can cause flooding on the streets.

During the sunny months, during the day it will be nice and warm, usually not more than 28 C, but it will get colder at night. The colder months are from November to February. Make sure to pack nice sweaters and maybe a hat since the temperature can drop to 9 C every now and then.

Lastly, don’t wear flip-flops. The floor is almost always filthy if you are planning to walk.

Quick Tip : View my full Guatemala packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Guatemala Essentials shopping list here .

Where to Stay in Guatemala City

There are plenty of options in Guatemala City , you just need to find out in which zone you prefer to stay.

Most people stay in Guatemala City for only one or two nights and then move to Antigua , Lake Atitlan , Flores, etc. If this is you, I recommend staying close to the Airport in zone 13 and 10.

On the other hand, if you are planning to stay longer to explore, you can stay in zone 1 close to the Centro Civico, in zone 4 close to 4 Grados Norte, or if you want to push it farther, you can stay in Ciudad Cayala. The last option is farther away, so you’ll probably need to rent a car, use Uber or hire private transportation.

I have also written a whole post about where to stay in Guatemala City .

Luxury Hotels

Hilton Guatemala City, Guatemala

Westin Camino Real, Guatemala

Mid-Range Hotels

Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City

Hyatt Centric Guatemala City

Close to the Airport

Mariana’s Petit Hotel

Hostal Villa Toscana

Habitación cómoda y céntrica

Casa Carmel Bed & Breakfast

Tequila Sunrise Hostel

Good Hotel Guatemala City

AC Hotels by Marriott Guatemala City


Naths Apartment

Other Nice Hotels

Life Builders

Hotel Vista Quince

Hotel San Carlos

A green bus is driving down the streets of Guatemala City.

Map of Accommodation Guatemala City

How to get to guatemala city (and how to get around).

If you are flying, you will arrive at La Aurora Airport, which is fairly close to everything since it is in the middle of the city. Don’t let this fool you though, the traffic can make a short ride into hours in a car. Make sure to always have transportation booked from the airport to your accommodation. 

You can also get to Guatemala City by land if you are getting there from El Salvador , for example. 

When you enter a Central American country, you will be granted 90 days to travel around Central America . If those 90 days run out, you have to either get out of Central American countries and re-enter or get a visa at Migration. Most travelers take a short vacation in Mexico and then return to save themselves the paperwork.

The best ways to get around in Guatemala City are Uber and the Transmetro. Transmetro are the city buses. There are other city buses, but I strongly advise you not to use them since they are unsafe.

PRO TIP: you’ll always need to keep changing because the Transmetro fare is Q1 per normal journey and Q2 for express journeys. Unfortunately, no contactless works with them. If you see people with Transmetro cards, those are only for citizens. 

Taxis, I also don’t recommend unless you have the contact of a reliable person.

If you are feeling like going full in vacation mode and don’t want to think about public transportation or Uber, you can hire private transportation. My friends at GuateGo offer both shared shuttles or you can contact them if you want to plan a full itinerary with them.

Coworking in Guatemala City

  • Your accommodation place – Most hotels, hostels and AirB&Bs have wifi available.
  • Regus – There are two of these places, you can check out more information at their website

Guatemala City Safety Advice

Always keep change in your pockets! in ZONE 1, if someone asks you for money, give them 1Q and keep walking. This happens a lot, not only with tourists, but with all people in general.

Always keep change in your pockets during your trip in Guatamala City. If someone asks you for money on the streets, it could be tempting for them to take your whole wallet and run if you first open your bag, open your wallet, and search for change. It’s better to have change in your pockets and keep walking. Also, you’ll need change for the Transmetro.

Transmetro is the safest means of public transportation in Guatemala. Don’t even think about using other types of public transportation. To help you make your way through Transmetro, here are the lines available, and which ones I advise are safe and which ones that aren’t.

  • Green – safe
  • Purple – it’s okay. Just don’t wear sunglasses and hang a camera on your neck screaming you are a tourist
  • Orange – this one is okay, but avoid rush hours as much as possible because there are pick pockets
  • Yellow – avoid when possible. If you can make your way through other line or maybe taking an Uber, avoid this one
  • Sky blue – DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT THIS ONE! This line goes through the most dangerous parts of the city. Believe me, you don’t want to go through those even driving your own car.
  • Avoid rush hours from 6am to 9am and 3:30 to 9pm during your Guatemala City trip. The best time to visit Guatemala safely would be outside those hours. The burglars go out especially at these times.

When using an ATM, make sure to use one inside a mall or a bank. DON’T use one out on the street because you’ll most likely end up with a cloned card.

Don’t carry valuables with you out on the streets like phones, jewelry, expensive glasses, etc, unless it is a safe place like Cayalá or 4 Grados Norte. If you want to do some vlogging, it is okay in the places I mentioned before, just be precautious. Believe me, if you encounter sketchy people, you’ll know if it’s okay or not.

If you are planning to walk around, it is best if you do it in groups.

Safety Wing Insurance for Nomads

The Best Time To Visit Guatemala City

All year round is good, but it is particularly special for the Holy Week and Christmas time, though the traffic is INSANE during that time. If you visit during these times, it could be best to rent a car and learn your way through the city.

Guatemala City Travel Guide planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Guatemala City?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Guatemala City which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Guatemala City on Amazon here .

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Guatemala City?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo . You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Guatemala City?

I recommend either Viator  or GetYour Guide . They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing  digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here . I personally use GlocalMe  as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim . Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.com , Hotels.com , and Expedia  They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here . I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack . 


What to Read in Guatemala

guatemala city tourism

Lonely Planet Guide to Guatemala

I couldn’t not include this Lonely Planet Guide to Guatemala in the reading list. 

I’m not always a fan of these kind of travel guides as they are oftern out of date. I learned this more than once the hard way! But they do serve a purpose and it’s always nice to have one actual book that you can use to plan before your trip as well as having something to read when the battery dies on your kindle ! 

Although you can also get most of these Lonely Planet Guidebooks free as part of a kindle unlimited subscription .

guatemala city tourism

I, Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchú is quite possibly the most internationally well known Guatemalan.  She is a indigenous feminist and human rights activist who won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Her book I, Rigoberta Menchú is now a global bestseller and she has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of the Indigenous people in Guatemala both during and after the civil war.

This book is a reflection on her personal experiences during the civil war in Guatemala when her mother, father, and brother were murdered by the Guatemalan military.

If you have an interest in the history of Guatemala then read this book. It’s both heartbreaking and inspiring in equal measures. 

guatemala city tourism

Secrets of the Talking Jaguar

Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village

I was given this book to read while I was dog sitting in Lake Atitlan and I can’t even tell you how much I loved it. I knew the Lake well by then so reading this book really brought those places to life for me. 

The book is based on the life of the author Martin Prechtel who somehow found himself on an incredible journey from New Mexico in the USA to a small Mayan Village in Guatemala where he became a shaman.

Read this book. You won’t regret it!

guatemala city tourism

A Short History of Guatemala

Ok so maybe A Short History of Guatemala isn’t the most riveting read. But it really is interesting, especially for all of you history buffs out there. 

It’s easy to read and gives you a good overview on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Guatemalas history. 

The book mostly focuses on the ninetieth and twentieth centuries. It is a little dates now, but it still does the job!

Check out My travel books

guatemala city tourism

The Solo Girls Guide to Traveling Without Fear

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The solo girls guide to becoming a digital nomad

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Claire Summers

Claire Summers

Hi I’m Claire!

At 34 I sold all my worldly possessions that wouldn’t fit into 3 boxes or my backpack and hit the road.

I started Claire’s Itchy Feet to inspire women to pack their bags and travel more. With no plans to stop anytime soon I’m always looking for my next adventure be it attempting to surf or climbing a volcano I’ll try (almost) anything once!

© 2023 Claire’s Itchy Feet  


Las experiencias más emocionantes de tu vida las puedes vivir en Guatemala. Te esperamos para cautivarte con todo lo que Guatemala tiene para ti, su cultura, sus volcanes, sus hermosos lagos, su diversidad de flora y fauna y sobre todo su gente

¡guatemala, te espera, declaración electrónica del viajero.

guatemala city tourism

Pueblos Pintorescos

¿qué hacer.

guatemala city tourism

Destinos de Cultura

guatemala city tourism

Escuelas de español

guatemala city tourism

Reuniones e Incentivos

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Salud y Bienestar

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Turismo Religioso

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guatemala city tourism

Destinos de boda

Mapa interactivo mundo maya, sigue nuestra playlist.

Descubre como suena Guatemala y recorre los rincones más hermosos de nuestro país a través de su ritmo.

Mira más categorías

Bioseguridad turística.

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Servicios Turísticos

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Encuéntranos en redes sociales

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Things to know before visiting Guatemala

Doug Murray

Nov 2, 2023 • 7 min read

Hispanic woman on the pier of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala looking aside, full body

Guatemala is a fascinating country with so much to see – here are tips that will help you make the most out of your trip © Fernanda Reyes / Getty Images

Guatemala has been my second home for nearly two decades, and the country still captivates me: the landscape with its volcanoes and coffee trees, the lakes and rivers and tropical beaches, Mayan ruins peeking out above the treetops. 

Mayan traditions are still alive and well, and the weather’s almost always fine in the Land of Eternal Spring. However, there's information travelers to Guatemala should know before visiting if you really want to enjoy all it has to offer. 

Get your shots before you leave

If you come in from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you’ll need to be vaccinated against this mosquito-borne disease. It’s also recommended that you’re up to date with your typhoid, hepatitis A and B, rabies, flu and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough) shots. It’s best to visit a travel clinic at least a month before your trip if you need to get vaccinated so there’s enough time to give you full protection. Some vaccines, like hepatitis B and rabies, require follow-up doses.

Bring your own bug spray if you like it DEET free

Most of the things you may have forgotten at home are available in Guatemala, but some items are more difficult to find or very expensive. Bug spray is easy to find but usually contains DEET. The locally produced DEET-free repellents aren’t very effective, so you’ll want to bring a good brand from home. The mosquito-borne diseases of malaria, zika, dengue fever and chikungunya are all endemic in parts of Guatemala. 

Silhouette of a fisherman casting his net in Guatemala

Don't go without sunscreen

Sunburn is a real risk if you spend time outside. Some of the larger stores and pharmacies sell chemical sunscreens, but these generally don’t have an SPF higher than 25. The stronger stuff and natural mineral sunscreens are normally only available in a handful of specialty health stores, with limited options and much higher prices. Pack enough of your favorite sunscreen, and remember to use it.

Your preferred feminine hygiene products might be hard to find

In terms of feminine hygiene products, most shops stock pads only. Some larger stores and pharmacies stock tampons with applicators. You might find the kind without an applicator, as well as menstrual cups, in specialty health stores, but the price will reflect the fact that they’re imported.

Pack lightweight clothing

Because Guatemala’s weather is mainly warm and humid, light clothing that dries quickly is more useful than jeans, which are heavy, too warm for the climate and take forever to dry. For cooler days, a light sweater or jacket is generally sufficient. If you need more clothes than you brought or just a wardrobe revamp, most towns have a paca , a place where you can buy secondhand clothing for as little as Q5 (less than US$1). 

The Arco de Santa Catalina, in Antigua, is a remnant of a 17th-century convent; the arch enabled nuns to cross the street unseen.

When in doubt, cover up

Guatemalans tend to be religious: practicing Catholic, evangelical or, to a smaller extent, traditional Mayan belief systems. That deep-rooted faith also means that they are generally more socially conservative, especially in Maya-dominated communities. 

Men don’t go shirtless unless they’re at the beach. Women prefer knee-length shorts and oversized T-shirts to bathing suits. In the large cities and Ladino-dominated areas, people are more open to shorts, shorter skirts and tank tops. In the Maya communities, however, the women usually wear traditional clothing in public, and their cortes – a garment worn as a skirt – always fall below the knee.

If you’re not sure whether your clothing is appropriate, it’s best to cover up: put on a shirt and don’t wear anything shorter than mid-thigh. If you visit a church or other spiritual site, it’s respectful to cover your shoulders and arms.  

Avoid illegal drugs

Some bars and hostels turn a blind eye to the use of marijuana and other illegal drugs. However, police raids on bars and hostels aren’t uncommon, and if you’re found with any illegal substances in your possession, you will be arrested. 

Don’t drink the water

Tap water in Guatemala is not safe to drink. To reduce your risk of getting parasites, stick to purified water: bottled water is readily available everywhere. Hostels and restaurants will usually let you refill your water bottle, sometimes for a small fee. You may also want to skip the raw salad unless you’re sure that purified water was used for washing produce. 

If you do contract parasites, a trip to the pharmacy is often all you need to get the right treatment.

Guatemalans can get personal but don’t mean harm

It’s not unusual in Guatemalan culture to call people by some physical attribute. Being called guapo or guapa (attractive one) can feel uncomfortable at worst, but being called gordo or gorda (fat one) may sting. If you don’t like the nickname you’ve been given, try not to act offended; the trick is to let it slide and to tell the person your name instead. 

You may also find that Guatemalans like to ask personal questions: how old you are, how many children you have, where you are going. If you answer in the negative as to whether you have a spouse, this may even lead to questions about the status of your virginity, no matter your age. If you feel uncomfortable, remain polite, joke, and change the subject. 

Politeness goes a long way – most of the time

Guatemalans appreciate politeness. A friendly buenas  (good morning/afternoon/evening) or hola  (hello) creates a good first impression. Por favor  or simply porfa  (please) and gracias  (thank you) show that you were raised right. If you learn to say thank you in the Mayan dialect spoken at your destination, it’s guaranteed to elicit a smile. Ask locals how to say thank you in their language, repeat the phrase back to them and then use it for as long as you’re in that town.

One area where being too polite will do you no good, though, is standing in line. People will patiently wait in line in a more formal setting, such as at the clinic or a government office. At the market or in a neighborhood tienda (corner store)? If you don’t speak up, somebody may very well step in front of you as if it’s the most normal thing in the world – and in Guatemala, it is. 

A woman walking on a path surrounded by tropical greenery, seen from behind

The travel experience might be different for female visitors 

The culture of machismo is rife in Guatemala. Local women generally don’t frequent bars and cantinas on their own because of the risk of sexual harassment and violence. Even in pairs, women may face harassment. If you want to go out drinking, it’s best to do it in a mixed group: the presence of men in your group will deter those who won’t take no for an answer.

Women travelers may also encounter micro-aggressions like being talked over or ignored in favor of the men in their group. They’re also held to a higher standard than male travelers when it comes to dress or how they behave in bars and at parties. Sexual harassment and violence are real risks, and the conviction rate for offenders is low. 

However, as a woman traveler, you may find real solidarity – local women tend to be protective of female tourists traveling on their own. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, try to move closer to groups of other women. And who knows: you might make some real connections and make some new friends!

The LGBTQI+ scene is small   

Same-sex relationships are legal in Guatemala but frowned upon. The LGBTIQ+ scene in the country is small and mostly confined to the largest cities and tourist areas. While violence against LGBTIQ+ tourists is rare, local activists have been attacked. Take your cues from your surroundings and watch how the local community behaves towards transgender people or public displays of affection between same-sex couples, for instance. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution. 

Hiker with panorama view of Lake Atitlan and volcano San Pedro and Toliman early in the morning from peak of volcano Atitlan, Guatemala. Hiking and climbing on Vulcano Atitlan

Always hike with a local guide

Some tourists who come to Guatemala climb volcanoes on their own with no issues. However, hiking alone is not a good idea because of the risk of getting robbed, injured or lost. Use local guides and follow their instructions: if they say they’re not going any farther, turn around with them. Guides know what the risks are, and the risks are very real – Guatemala has seen several high-profile deaths of hikers in recent years. Rescue teams are normally made up of volunteers using donated gear. When they have to risk their lives to rescue you, the decent thing to do is to reimburse them for their trouble.   

To stay safe, don't take unnecessary chances

Is Guatemala safe? As a tourist, you’re unlikely to run into serious trouble. That said, listen to local advice about areas to avoid, always be aware of your surroundings and never leave your belongings or your drinks unattended. 

Guatemala has a reputation for corruption and poor enforcement of laws. You may hear of travelers who bribed officials and got away with it. You may also hear of travelers who weren’t so lucky, so just don’t do it. 

This article was first published March 2022 and updated November 2023

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  • The 38 Essential Honolulu Restaurants
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Fried dumplings on a decorative plate with dipping sauce

The 21 Essential Restaurants in Guatemala City

Taste your way through Indigenous Maya dishes, colorful stews, hulking tostadas, and so many tamales in Guatemala City

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Guatemala possesses a breathtaking landscape of volcanoes, mountains, tropical forests, and lakes, including one of the world’s most beautiful, Lago de Amatitan. The biodiverse country has earned the nickname the Land of the Eternal Spring, and it’s all easily accessible from the capital, which contains plenty of wonders of its own. Home to 22 Maya language groups such as K’iché, Q’eqchí, Kaqchikel, and Mam, as well as people of Xinca, Garifuna, and Spanish descent, Guatemala City is a mishmash of ancestral recipes, modern fine dining (including several World’s 50 Best Restaurants notables), and an energetic street food scene.

The cuisines of the Maya and Chapín (the term for Guatemala City locals) communities are united by thick, disc-like corn tortillas, tomatoes, beans, a moderate use of chiles, bitter herbs, and flowers. There are a range of tamales made with corn masa, rice flour, and even potatoes prepared in different leaves; savory recados (stews) like pepian, jocón, and ka’kik; plus tostadas, envueltos (egg-battered vegetables), shucos (Guatemalan hot dogs), deep-fried snacks, and panes (sandwiches) sold at busy antojitos tables around town. Gallo is the beer of choice, alongside Guatemalan rums.

Recent years have seen the rapid growth of upscale Guatemalan restaurants, especially in the new, hip culinary and arts district, Quatro Grados Norte, located in tourist-friendly Zona 4. Among the coworking spaces and university buildings, it’s here that you’ll find the city’s chef-driven restaurants and third-wave cafes brewing the country’s world-renowned coffee beans. At the opposite end of the spectrum is nearby Antigua, the former capital of the colonial Captaincy General of Guatemala, which is an hour outside of the city center and on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Guatemala City. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 16th-century Spanish baroque architecture and encircled by volcanoes, Antigua also boasts regional foods and classic restaurants that are worth a tour of their own.

Bill Esparza is an LA-based, James Beard Award-winning food writer, author of LA Mexicano , and a featured journalist on Netflix’s Street Food: USA.

guatemala city tourism

Gusina Garífuna

It’s a long way from the capital to Livingston, Guatemala’s Garifuna settlement on the country’s Caribbean coast, but you should at least make time for a meal at this Zona 1 restaurant by husband-and-wife team Carlos Caballeros and Karla Pacheco. Opened in 2012, the restaurant serves Caribbean and Garifuna cuisine like shrimp and fish ceviches made tangy cocktail style with a mix of shrimp stock, chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and squirts of ketchup; grilled sea snail in a saffron-coconut sauce; and steamed Caribbean lobster in garlic-butter sauce. Try traditional Garifuna dishes like tapado (tapou) — a sweet, starchy seafood soup of fish, shrimp, and crab in coconut milk stock, crammed into a bowl with yucca, banano verde, and sweet plantains — or machuca, a whole fish stew of coconut milk thickened with mashed plantain, basil, and zamat, a pungent wild herb.

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For more than three decades, Elsa Morales has run a white- and blue-tiled stall in the Mercado Central, where she serves a rotating menu of deeply flavored comfort dishes from steaming pots. One favorite of Morales, caldo de gallina (hen soup) is full of chayote and potatoes, scented with mint. A few other stews commonly make appearances, like carne guisada, a Guatemalan pot roast seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves; or hilachas, a shredded, tangy beef stew of tomatoes and mild chile guaque that’s a staple of Guatemalan cuisine.

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Refacciónes Doña Mela

Refacciónes are the snacks in between meals, and there’s no better place to get from breakfast to dinner than the Doña Mela stand at the Mercado Central. Founded in 1960, the stand is now run by María del Carmen Salguero, who serves well more than 20 dishes, including tostadas; soft tortillas de maíz filled with chicharrón or hog maw with chopped radishes; sweet mole de platanos; savory tortitas de yuca (yucca fritters); and revolcado, a stew of pork head in salsa.

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San Martín Centro Histórico

Head to this 18th-century Colonial home with exposed brick columns and walls for a variety of Guatemalan egg dishes, as well as breakfast plates from Mexico, El Salvador, Europe, and the United States, all with a cup of Guatemalan coffee. The go-to is the desayuno Chapín, the iconic national breakfast of frijoles volteados (refried black beans), sunny side up eggs covered in tomato sauce, fried plantains, and soft, creamy cheese, but there are also eggs scrambled with cheese and bitter loroco flowers, plus a pair of egg dishes with tamales that are as charming as the setting itself.  

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La Cocina de la Señora Pu

Señora Pu is one of the most exciting kitchens in Zona 1, where Indigenous cook, anthropologist, and chef Rosa Pu prepares haute cuisine from the K’iché Maya people. In a small dining room painted in contrasting bold colors, Pu presents Indigenous dishes that are both alive and evolving, such as camarones al gusto del rey kiq’ab, or shrimp in a sauce of chiles and spices steamed in a banana leaf; k’ilim de pescado, grilled fish in a secret sauce accompanied by roasted vegetables; and jurum de conejo, a rabbit and cacao stew.

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La Esquina del Sabor

Guatemalan chicharroneras are stands that fry up crispy chicharrones and carnitas, the deep-fried meat on the latter either attached to the skin or separated into chunks or strips. This Zona 7 street vendor fries delicious, reddish-orange chicharrones dyed vibrantly with Orange Crush (or another orange drink) poured into the lard. Orders are sold in packets by the pound, and include corn tortillas, guacamol, fried spring onions, limes, picante (hot sauce or chiles), and whole jalapenos fried in the same fat. Be sure to order some piconas (aka picositas), Guatemalan beer cocktails mixed inside cans of Gallo beer.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by La Esquina del Sabor (@laesquinadelsaborgt)

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Rojo Cerezo Coffee

For a long time, most Guatemalan coffee has been exported, but Rogelio Dávila is turning locals on to something new: drinking their own coffee. At Rojo Cerezo, one of many independent coffee shops in the Cuatro Grados Norte neighborhood, he utilizes third-wave coffee methods to make classic espresso drinks and black coffee using Guatemalan beans sourced from places like Huehuetenango, Antigua, and Chimaltenango. Dávila also sells a wildly popular bottled cold brew that’s helping steer consumers away from industrial, international brands and toward the fine coffee produced right at home.

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Guatemala City’s 23 municipal markets supply the raw material for chef Pablo Diaz’s restaurant. Mercado 24 celebrates Guatemala’s seasons and centers on local seafood products, with a touch of international flair thrown in, all in a casual, welcoming space. Diaz’s minimal approach can be seen in seafood items such as smoked, adobo-rubbed black sea bream head with fresh greens, grilled squid stuffed with fish sausage in an aromatic sauce of herbs, and cured sierra in corn miso. The restaurant’s beef tartare incorporates local mushrooms and a spicy gochujang dressing, an expression of Diaz’s love for Asian flavors.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mercado 24 (@mercado24gt)

Restaurante Flor De Lis

The dark, elegant dining room of Flor de Lis is gently illuminated by lava red lighting and spotlights focused on the tables, while the walls are lined with figurines. This is the setting for chef Diego Télles, who plates modern Guatemalan cuisine inspired by Maya culture and mythology. Tasting menus are available in both eight and 10 courses, including infladitas, thin corn pouches filled with caramel foam, orange, and passionfruit pulp; tomato confit, a plate inspired by Huehueteca monay, a Lenten dish; and baked fish wrapped in brilliantly green maxan leaves, paired with a rich emulsion of ash and coconut that forms a well for a pool of herbed olive oil.

A green wrap singed on top, beside a small mound of gray ash with a well in the center.

In 2013, chef Debora Fadul opened her “one-table” restaurant, where diners share a single table set on a terrace encircled by transparent glass walls. Fadul uses Guatemalan ingredients and produce grown in the restaurant’s garden to create evocative dishes. Glistening pearls of white chayote float in dual-toned achiote oils with samat (culantro), chicharrón, and a deep-fried piece of honeycomb tripe, all together evoking a Sunday morning spent slurping beef stomach stew. Look out for Fadul’s mini-pupusa stuffed with quesillo and a spread of squash butter, then topped with various flavors from around the Americas.

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Shucos Ejecutivos El Chino

What started as a pair of humble hot dog carts, opened by Juan Pablo Gómez in front of the Yurrita Church in 1970, blossomed into a cultural institution when the first restaurant opened in 1986 across from the Catholic school Liceo Guatemala. Popularly known today as Los Shucos del Liceo, Guatemala’s shuco (Guatemalan hot dog) king attracts students, office workers, and blue collar workers for a shuco tradicional: a toasted pan shuco spread with guacamol, covered with grilled hot dog halves, and topped with mustard, mayo, and pickled cabbage. The mixtas uses the same ingredients on a warm corn tortilla, making it a sort of hot dog taco. 

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Shucos Campo Marte

Shucos come big and loaded with meats at Campo Marte. This Guatemalan-style hot dog stand is the home of el Especial, aka the Transmetro, a hulking pan shuco, more than a foot long, packed with multiple charcoal-grilled hot dogs, longaniza, salami, chorizo, chopped bacon, a thick lining of guacamol, and sliced cheese. The behemoth is the talk of Zona 5, and it’s made its way onto the menus of shuco vendors all over the city.

Demetrio Moliviatis opened the first location of this franchise in 1994 as a meeting place for friends to enjoy a few beers along with regional soups, stews, and meat dishes from all over the country. Now under the direction of celebrity chef Mirciny Moliviatis, Demetrio’s daughter, the restaurant serves plates of Guatemalan classics like jocón (pumpkin seed, tomatillo, and sweet pepper stew) with chicken; subanik de tres carnes, a Kaqchikel Maya dish of pork, beef, and hen in a sauce of various chiles; and on Fridays, siete caldos, the restaurant’s signature stew of seven meats.

From above, a bunch of stews in various pots, along with side dishes, avocados, and fixings.

Donde Joselito Steakhouse

In 2012, Guatemalan restaurateur Joselito Ramirez opened a modest establishment that’s grown to a 400-seat Argentine steakhouse, a source of pride for the grill master and owner who has spent a lifetime working in restaurants. Typical Argentine cuts — entraña (skirt steak), sweetbreads, and vacio (flank steak) roasted over coals — are accompanied by mashed potatoes, salad, and fries. Many Guatemalans favor local steaks, so those are on offer too, like lomito (beef medallions from a cut similar to tenderloin) and puyazo (rump steak).  

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Casa del Ron Guatemala

Formerly known as Villa Los Añejos when it opened in 2003, this rum bar, tasting room, and retail store is an obligatory stop to sample Ron Zacapa and Botran, both brands produced by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala. Check out the rum flights, or order a glass of Zacapa XO, a blend of reserve rums aged in French oak with notes of honeyed burnt orange. Or go for the Botran Cobre, a spiced rum inspired by Guatemalan ponche, a traditional holiday fruit punch. Pair anything with bar bites like chorizo and cheese croquettes, or a plate of jamón serrano and cheese, and finish with creme brulee made with Ron Añejo Botran Solera. 

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La casa del tamal.

La Casa del Tamal has been one of Guatemala City’s most established tamale vendors for decades. When in season, plain corn tamales blanco, also known as tamales de viaje, accompany typical plates like revolcado (pork head stew), pepian (pumpkin seed-based stew), or pickled foods. Paches (potato tamales) come filled with pork or chicken, while tamales rojos de arroz (rice tamales) come with pork or chicken in a chile guaque sauce. For locals, this is the place to go to enjoy special tamales on holidays.

La Carmelita Tamales

It’s a tamale festival every day at this beloved Zona 10 restaurant, which offers a half dozen rotating varieties that change with the seasons. There are two year-round favorites, wrapped in hojas de maxan (rattlesnake plant leaves): tamales colorados, filled with pork in a red stew of chile guaque and achiote; and tamales negros, pork in a black aromatic stew of dark chile pasa, spices, and chocolate. Other menu items include chuchitos (chicken tamales in corn husks), tamalitos de cambray (sweet red rice flour tamales), and tamalitos de chipilín (small tamales stuffed with leafy greens).  

Donde Mimi Antojitos

Many food stands set up at Parque la Merced in Antigua, but head for Donde Mimi Antojitos. The long table is covered with a jumble of bowls, plates, and baking sheets bearing Guatemalan snacks. Crowd-pleasers include panes con chile — chile relleno served in a split roll along with a brush of mayo, a large leaf of lettuce, and pickled cabbage salad — and dobladas, corn tortillas stuffed with a saute of chopped beef and vegetables, then dressed with tomato sauce, crumbled cheese, and a slice of onion. Try atol blanco, a well-blended, Indigenous Maya masa porridge flavored by spoonfuls of bean puree, ground pumpkin seeds, and chile Cobanero.

La Cuevita de Los Urquizú

After passing through the narrow entrance of a Colonial building, guests find a rustic interior and charming patio, where La Cuevita de los Urquizú serves a colorful array of typical recados (stews) in clay pots. It’s nearly impossible to choose one dish from the bounty, but top selections include frijol blanco con espinazo, white beans and pork spine in a rich tomato and chile guaque stew; pulique de costilla, a beef rib stew thickened by masa and stained deep red from achiote; or pepian, a pumpkin seed-based stew with chicken. The plato formal comes with a recado, tortillas, and a pair of sides from a buffet of 30 options, including salads, beans, rice, and vegetables. 

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La Fonda de la Calle Real

La Fonda is one of Antigua’s cultural landmarks for its rustic setting, traditional Guatemalan soups, and churrasco, Guatemalan-style grilled meats plated along with sides such as guacamol, refried black beans, fried plantains, fresh cheese, rice, and chirmol (tomato-based salsa). The house specialties are chicken soup and rice “perfumed” with cilantro, ground chile Cobanero, oregano, and chopped onions. Check out the kaq’ik (turkey in an herbed vegetable stew) that’s a ceremonial Maya dish from Cobán.

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Hugos Ceviche Restaurante

In 1993, Don Víctor Hugo Bolaños de León began serving Guatemalan-style ceviches from a red pickup truck in front of Monumento Landivar in Antigua. Shrimp, sea snail, and blood clam (concha) ceviches are made to order with lime juice, canned tomato juice, both mint and cilantro, chopped onions and tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. This is also the home of the perfect picosito, the legendary Guatemalan beer cocktail prepared in a can of Gallo beer with Worcestershire, fresh squeezed lime, salt, and picante (a mild chile powder), plus a couple of chile-dusted, cooked shrimp on top of the can. It’s a refreshing blast of umami that lives up to the fame.

Four hands cheers with beers in brown paper bags topped with tiny bits of salsa.

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THE 10 BEST Guatemala City Tours & Excursions

Guatemala city tours.

  • Historical & Heritage Tours
  • Cultural Tours
  • Archaeology Tours
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Likely to Sell Out
  • Special Offers
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

guatemala city tourism

1. Lake Atitlan Solo Traveler´s Fav: Panajachel +San Juan +Boat Ride

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2. Visit Hobbitenango Themed Park and Antigua Guatemala

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3. Guatemala City Tour

guatemala city tourism

4. Pacaya Volcano Vistas + Enjoy Pizza Cooked Under Volcanic Heat

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5. Guatemala City & Antigua Guatemala Private Tour

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6. Tikal From Guatemala

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7. Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch

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8. Lake Atitlán Sightseeing Cruise with Transport from Guatemala City

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9. Historical and natural bike tour in Guatemala City

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10. Private Transport - between Guatemala City Airport and Antigua

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11. Full Day Tour of Antigua Guatemala

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12. Full-Day Lake Atitlan Tour

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13. Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City

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14. Full Day Tour: Chichicastenango Maya Market and Lake Atitlan from Guatemala City

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15. Climb Active Pacaya Volcano + Box Lunch at the Top - Shared Tour

guatemala city tourism

16. Guatemala city Walking Tour and public bus

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17. Chichicastenango and Panajachel Day Trip from Guatemala City

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18. 2 Hours Private Cacao Ceremony in Guatemala

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19. Copan Ruins Overnight Trip from Guatemala City

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20. Private Shuttle in Guatemala

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21. Private Ground Transfer Airport - Antigua Guatemala

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22. Half-Day Guatemala City Tour

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23. UNESCO JEWELS: Antigua Half Day Tour from Guatemala City

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guatemala city tourism

25. Guatemala City Half Day Private Tour

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26. Lake Atitlán and San Juan La Laguna Day Trip by Boat from Guatemala City

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27. Antigua Guatemala , Full-Day Shared Tour from Guatemala City

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28. Lake Atitlán and Chichicastenango market tour

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29. Private Ground Transfer Guatemala City To Panajachel, LakeAtitlan

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30. 2-Hour Culture and Historical Tour From Guatemala

What travelers are saying.

Ambreen M

  • Guatemala City Tour
  • Lake Atitlan Solo Traveler´s Fav: Panajachel +San Juan +Boat Ride
  • Guatemala City & Antigua Guatemala Private Tour
  • Pacaya Volcano Vistas + Enjoy Pizza Cooked Under Volcanic Heat
  • Lake Atitlán Sightseeing Cruise with Transport from Guatemala City
  • Guat2do Travel Experiences
  • Guatemalan Adventure Day Tour
  • Gray Line Guatemala
  • Cayaya Birding
  • GTM Tour Guide & Travel Services
  • Authentic Guatemala
  • Cocktail Tours Guatemala
  • Maya Sky - Day Tour
  • RidinGGuatE

Guatemala City: Tours Information


  1. Guatemala City: Things to know, Places to stay, hanging out

    guatemala city tourism

  2. The BEST Guatemala Tours and Things to Do in 2022

    guatemala city tourism

  3. Guatemala City, Guatemala

    guatemala city tourism

  4. 14 Must-Visit Attractions in Guatemala City

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  5. 20 AMAZING Places to Visit in Guatemala (2021 Guide)

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  6. Guatemala City Travel Guide

    guatemala city tourism


  1. Guatemala City

    Discover the rich culture, history and attractions of Guatemala City, the most inhabited city in Central America. Explore the historical center, the hipster zone, the museums, the National Palace and more with this comprehensive guide.

  2. Guatemala City travel

    Guatemala, Central America. Depending on who you talk to, Guatemala City (or Guate as it's also known) is either big, dirty, dangerous and utterly forgettable, or big, dirty, dangerous and utterly fascinating. Either way, there's no doubt there's an energy here unlike anywhere else in Guatemala. It's a place where dilapidated buses belch fumes ...

  3. Guatemala City, Guatemala 2024: All You Need to Know Before You Go

    Guatemala City Complete Day Private Tour. 14. from $145 per adult. Pacaya Volcano at night and Guatemala City Private Tour. 11. from $186 per adult. Likely To Sell Out. 8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins. 16.

  4. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Guatemala City

    2023. 1. La Aurora Zoo. 1,290. Zoos. The Zoo la Aurora is located just in the heart of Guatemala City, is one of the largest gardens in the city with 287 species and more than 2100 animals in the entire collection The Zoo has different areas that show to the visitors the collections divided by continents The Zoo was founded in 1924 by José ...

  5. 14 Must-Visit Attractions In Guatemala City

    However, there's more to this city than first meets the eye - whether you're in town for a few days or more, here are 14 must-visit attractions to add to your list. 1. Mercado Central. Market. Share. Add to Plan. Walk through the seemingly endless maze of underground passages to explore the lively Mercado Central.

  6. 23 Uniquely Fun Things to Do In Guatemala City (Local's Guide)

    1. Guatemala City Walking Tour. This Guatemala City guided walking tour is a great way to explore the city's top attractions in a convenient and informative way. With a knowledgeable local guide leading the way, you'll visit iconic landmarks like the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.

  7. Guatemala Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Expect to pay around 10 GTQ for a 1-2 hour journey. Shorter journeys can cost as little as 5 GTQ. If you are traveling between places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan, shuttle buses are the most common form of transport for backpackers. Travel between Antigua and Guatemala City costs around 150 GTQ on a shuttle bus.

  8. Must-see attractions Guatemala City, Guatemala

    Lívingston. Discover the best attractions in Guatemala City including Casa MIMA, Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, and Museo Ixchel.

  9. Guatemala City Tourism (2024): All You Need to Know Before You Go

    3. from ₹29,353 per adult. Guatemala City Half Day Private Tour. 18. from ₹7,788 per adult. Likely To Sell Out. 8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins. 16. from ₹1,52,721 per adult.

  10. Guatemala City

    Guatemala City. Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala, a country in Central America. With a population of around 3 million people, Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala. It can be interesting to visit "Guate," as it is also called by the locals. Guatemala City has attractions and restaurants, often with few ...

  11. Guatemala City, Guatemala 2023: Best Places to Visit

    Guatemala City draws visitors whose interests range from Maya history to contemporary culture. Two museums house Maya artefacts, some of which were discovered on a nearby archaeological site; other museums exhibit indigenous and modern art. In Mercado Central, an underground market, shoppers bargain with vendors selling local handicrafts.

  12. 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Guatemala City

    Guatemala City is home to 23 public markets selling produce from across the country. The biggest one is La Terminal in Zone 4, while the most tourist-friendly is the Mercado Central in Zone 1. Here you can pick up souvenirs and see the huge piles of produce, flowers and other goods for sale. | Vendors even set up stalls on the stairs leading to ...

  13. Guatemala City Travel Guide

    Get information on Guatemala City Travel Guide - Expert Picks for your Vacation hotels, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, sightseeing, and activities. Read the Fodor's reviews, or post your own.

  14. Guatemala City Travel Guide

    Top 5 Reasons to Visit Guatemala City. 1. Admire the Antique Architecture. Classic architecture abounds, and the city's churches are emblematic of this. Visit the Iglesia Yurrita, the Catedral Metropolitana de Guatemala, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, or El Calvario. 2.

  15. 15 Top Attractions & Things to Do in Guatemala

    11. Todos Santos Cuchumatan. 9. Semana Santa. Map of Things to Do in Guatemala. 15. El Mirador. Nestled deep in the heart of the Petén Jungle are the mysterious ruins of El Mirador. Many of the structures date back to the 6th-century BC, including the world's largest pyramid from pre-Columbian America.

  16. The best places to visit in Guatemala

    The epicenter of Mayan culture in Central America, Guatemala is renowned for its dramatic volcanoes, black-sand beaches, biodiverse jungles, thriving Mayan townships and the stunning ruins of Tikal. There's loads to see here. The country's abundant natural attractions are topped off by the urban charm of Antigua, the country's former Spanish-era capital, where visitors can find some of the ...

  17. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Guatemala

    2023. 6. La Aurora Zoo. 1,290. Zoos. The Zoo la Aurora is located just in the heart of Guatemala City, is one of the largest gardens in the city with 287 species and more than 2100 animals in the entire collection The Zoo has different areas that show to the visitors the collections divided by continents The Zoo was founded in 1924 by José ...

  18. The Ultimate Guide to Guatemala City Travel

    9. Go Back in Time at Museo del Ferrocarril. Once upon a time, there was a train that connected the main Guatemala people ports in the south, the Caribbean, and Guatamala City. In the beginning, it worked only to transport goods from the ports. Later on, it was also used for travelers.

  19. Guatemala City Travel Guide 4K

    Are you considering a trip to Guatemala City? In this travel guide of Guatemala City we explore Reforma and the city center as well as go out for dinner. We ...

  20. Visit Guatemala

    Religious tourism in Guatemala is one of the richest experiences for foreign visitors and can be enjoyed throughout the country. In addition, its rich history envelops visitors in a unique, mystical atmosphere. ... Quetzaltenango is a city located 200 kilometers west of Guatemala City, at 2,333 meters above sea level. It is also known as Xela ...

  21. Things to know before going to Guatemala

    It's also recommended that you're up to date with your typhoid, hepatitis A and B, rabies, flu and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough) shots. It's best to visit a travel clinic at least a month before your trip if you need to get vaccinated so there's enough time to give you full protection. Some vaccines, like hepatitis B and ...

  22. The 21 Best Restaurants in Guatemala City

    The plato formal comes with a recado, tortillas, and a pair of sides from a buffet of 30 options, including salads, beans, rice, and vegetables. Open in Google Maps. Foursquare. 2a Calle Oriente ...

  23. THE 10 BEST Guatemala City Tours & Excursions for 2024

    These are the best places for couples seeking tours in Guatemala City: Guat2do Travel Experiences; Guatemalan Adventure Day Tour; Gray Line Guatemala; GTM Tour Guide & Travel Services; Authentic Guatemala; See more tours for couples in Guatemala City on Tripadvisor

  24. Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano spews ash and smoke, forcing flight

    Ash fall was reported in Mexico City and its surrounding region, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of the volcano, according to the National Civil Protection Coordination.